La Primavera: Selected Haiku

Kay Millikin

Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2001

La Primavera
(the spring)


Kay Millikin first became involved with haiku as a student at Millikin University in 2000. Very interested in the art she continued to practice on her own while taking various classes on the subject. Katie was very attracted to haiku because of its ability to touch on life in a seemingly simple way. Throughout her haiku Katie writes about topics that concern the heart and human emotions.

Sweet innocence of childhood . . . a mud splattered dress, her first recital, playing in a pile of leaves. Throughout her haiku Kay Millikin reveals a barrage of emotions relating to childhood using very vivid imagery. Most of her haiku contain a prominent theme of innocence and playfulness. Her haiku often cause the reader to associate with his/her own precious childhood memories. Although she has not been writing haiku for an extended period of time Katie has already displayed a mastery of the art.

—Katherin Walsch, reader

Statement of poetics—Spring 2001

This is my second semester working with haiku, and I hope it will not be my last. Over the past year I have seen my haiku grow immensely with the help of my professor, Dr. Brooks, and class readers. I look back now on my haiku from last year, many of which I have revised and included in this final set, and it astounds me how much more I’ve learned about haiku with the addition of one intensive semester. I am much more confident in my work now, and since I have plenty of room to grow as a writer of haiku, I hope to continue improving my work and to keep this beloved form of writing with me at all times. To me, writing haiku is a practice of celebrating life; capturing its joys, sorrows, and anticipations, and sharing them with others through a written moment. How then, could I take haiku out of my life without removing one of my daily celebrations?

Earlier in the semester someone asked me what my favorite class was this spring, and it took me a moment to think of it, but eventually I answered that it was this haiku class. Yet, I could not quite figure out why; we had plenty of homework all the time, and after all it was just a Global Studies course, but looking at it again I realized this class did more than just educate me about a global tradition of writing—it taught me about a global philosophy that extends from a Japanese writer in the seventeenth century to me, here, in a classroom at Millikin. We are all living, and we all can choose to appreciate life, or ignore it. To appreciate it is to appreciate haiku, and by writing haiku we share our joys of living. It has been my approach in writing haiku to share this gratitude and these special moments we experience in daily living.

I have broken my haiku up into a cyclical flow of seasons, starting and ending with spring. Spring is the key season to me not only because it is the semester in which most of these haiku were written, but also because it is the season when I feel most inspired to write haiku, with the joy of new life beginning everywhere. I do not believe every haiku has to have a season word, or even has to be about nature, but to me the seasons are excellent representations of emotions and experiences.

I chose to entitle my work La Primavera in Spanish because the Spanish language captures the meaning of spring so beautifully; la primavera coming from roots of both primera, first, and veras, truth or reality. In no way am a Spanish linguist, merely a student with a minor in the language, but the fact that this season word has these two words built into it is no coincidence to me. Spring is our time of first truth, or first reality in a discovery of new birth all around us. My haiku this semester has come from a first reality in discovering the importance of haiku in my life, something I did not grasp until this semester.

My haiku season takes a cyclical pattern, from spring to spring, showing the cyclical movement of life. Also, as the spring is my most inspiring season I have many more haiku for it than others. Following is my final collection of the haiku I feel to be my best of this semester. Over the years I know it will be revised, added to and deleted from, but for now it is a collection I am happy to present.

—Kay Millikin

I: La Primavera (spring)

first rain–
leaving my umbrella at home
for the walk

a smile…
mud splatters everywhere
new school dress

after the service
dimly lit sanctuary . . .
alone with her Easter lily

Easter Monday
two fallen branches
a cross

first prom
in the tiny purse
bobby pins, safety pins

after spring break
suntan lotion streaks
on textbook pages

II: El Verano (summer)

morning at grandma’s
sliced grapefruit
on the breakfast table

Amish fruit stand
from her bonnet
braided pigtails

New Yorker–
behind the fair booth
worker straightens her ponytail

a patch of stars
above the trees

behind the mission tree
small hands
peeling an orange

against the river . . .
nuclear cooling towers

III: El Ontoño (autumn)

funeral reception–
her porch swing

a brown leaf
clings to my hair…
searching for her grave

collecting shiny leaves
in the schoolyard
yellow raincoats

face down
the child embraces
a pile of leaves



IV: El Invierno (winter)

one kitten missing–
a small puff
in the open sweater drawer

crayon portrait
daddy’s face
a purple frown

first recital
his paper airplane
across the camera view

sneaking breakfast
under the desk
jelly doughnut on my skirt

above the forest trees
cellular tower

long drive home–
only the night
between headlights

the smell of the bar
still in her hair

Welcome Home party
her broken

V: La Primavera

spring breeze–
opening the office window
to the scent of new rain

hat to his chest
old man leans in–
hatching chicks

after church
two hikers–

first Easter–
earless chocolate bunny
on her yellow sundress

red Porsche
behind the minivan–
three heads at the window

first hit–
coach’s smile
becomes dad’s again

white morning sun
warming the grass–
my toes

open path–
running her fingers
through the bluestem


©2001 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors