There and back,
The only footprints are mine;
The snowy road.
Because Objective Hokku is a very selfless kind of verse, we generally avoid the words “I,” “me,” and “mine,” except in cases where they are necessary for clarity. That does not mean, however, that we do not use them at all. We use them, but we use them objectively. That means we speak of the self just as we would of a fox or a wild goose, or a river — without adding our own opinions and comments and interpretations.
Now oddly enough, when we do that, it removes the writer from the verse. The “self” in the verse — the experiencer — then becomes the reader. So when you read the hokku above, it is you seeing that the only footprints on the snowy road are yours, in spite of the fact that I wrote it this morning on my way back from walking through the snow to the grocery store. And because that is the way of Objective Hokku, I am happy to disappear entirely from the verse so that it may become your experience.
That is how the self appears in hokku. We might call it the “selfless” self.