WHITE COLDNESS

Here is a winter hokku I just experienced:

Peeling a daikon —
How cold it is
In my hand!

The thick whiteness and density of the daikon only seem to enhance the chill.

When I was a young boy, I had never seen a daikon.  It only began to appear in the markets in my region much later.  Even today, grocery checkers will sometimes ask me, “What is it?” when I put a long daikon on the counter to buy.  So Americans are still not entirely familiar with it.

It is, however, a very old staple of the Japanese diet, and was even made into rather tasty pickled form that is not easy to find in American markets.  In Asian medicine it is considered to be good for the lungs, and so is a common ingredient in foods for the winter “colds and flu” season — a good thing to add to soups and stews — which is exactly what I was preparing when this hokku happened.

If one has not seen a daikon (or better yet, held and tasted one), this verse will not be fully experienced.  That is why one’s personal memory of things is so important to how hokku works.

 

David

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