Just outside the main exhibit of The Art of Haiku, in the courtyard of the Open Space Visitor Center, hanging from a desert willow, this is written on a strip of brown paper bag:
Photo by Clarke Condé
the direction in which
we’re all streaming
For a moment, let us stream ourselves away from the 5-7-5 haiku form we were all taught in school, the mind-numbing considerations of well-placed Kireji and Kigo and the formality of frame-on-wall art shows to consider this poem by Jane Lipman in context.
Outside, in the elements and hanging from a tree with a handful of others, Lipman’s poem takes just a moment to read and understand. The gift that is haiku is derived from its simplicity. How simple is this? Simple enough to consider once without a plaguing residue of thoughts requiring resolution. It is a poem that can easily be dismissed as a truism if you need to move on to your Bosque walk or whatever other thing brought you down to hastily enjoy the Open Space Visitor Center. Yet, within the words there is plenty of substance to work with, starting with considering if it is true. Without our modern understanding of astrophysics, how would we know? If nothing else, that makes it a poem that the great Basho himself could never have written.
The Art of Haiku exhibit, and this poem in particular, pairs well with the purpose of the Open Space Visitor Center. How much time do we need to spend contemplating nature and our place within the greater scheme of the universe? Lipman has proposed the question with ease in her work. It is a poem at home on the branches of the desert willow. Both haiku as a form, and municipal open spaces like this one, are designed to allow us access to ask questions about our relationship with nature on our own terms, dedicating whatever amount of time we want to finding those answers for ourselves. Lipman offers a prompt, the Open Space Visitor Center offers a platform, but hurling towards Alpha Centauri while standing in the Bosque in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the amount of time you choose to spend answering those questions is up to you.