Gold letters on glass
Memories melt like chocolate
Glint of days gone past.
This poem captures a fleeting moment of joy at rediscovering my favourite chocolate shop in the Kings Road. The three line poem provides a perfect form to hold such a moment. A light touch combines with a sharp discipline to find just the right words, where less is more.
This particular poem obeys the discipline of the 17 syllable Japanese haiku. I like the element of word play, the challenge to find just the right number of sounds to fit the line, the way it must be spoken aloud as well as making a shape on the page. But not every three line poem needs to follow these strict rules.
During the summer months, I have been inspired by the artist Katie Paterson's three line poems collected in a beautifully produced book called A place that exists only in moonlight. Each poem captures an idea linked to time and space, stretching our imagination into the unknown and infinite universe. At the same time, these ideas are grounded in the familiar material of our lives. There is a beauty, harmony and spirituality in each poem.
I decided to absorb one each day, repeating it like a mantra as I walked on the beach or went about my everyday activities. After committing the first ten to memory, then twenty, I thought I might stop, but the process was so precious that I continued until I had all 136 poems in the collection by heart. Now they are with me and I can visit them at any time and in any place.
Here are a few of those wonderful three line poems.
made with dust
from spiral galaxies
soaked in moonlight
for over one million years
A letter sent
a star dies
of the northern lights
inside a spray can
A place that exists only in moonlight