My favorite online experience this week was a collaboration with Mary Ann Reilly, an artist, author, and educator I’ve never met in person, although we have exchanged ideas in various Twitter-based chats and dialogues.
It started on Wednesday night about 10:30. I was walking through the kitchen, checking on the Giants-Cardinals game. It was such a nice night, and the window was open. Outside our kitchen window is a row of lilac bushes, just now in its prime. The smell came in the window, and it struck me somehow that I appreciated the smell differently because I couldn’t see the lilacs. (Our neighbor Bobbi just told me the smell is “heavenly.”)
My writer-brain is never completely switched off, and this little sensory moment seemed like a haiku. I’ve written a lot of poems but have never focused on haiku. Somehow though the haiku form seemed right for this. So, I started rolling around words and counting syllables: The smell of lilacs … Within a few minutes I had the essence of what I wanted to say but still needed one more syllable for the middle line. When I added now, the sensory experience and the poem merged:
The smell of lilacs
Through the kitchen window now
Long after nightfall.
Writing this seemed like a satisfying end to the day. I watched Brian Wilson throw a few pitches for the Giants and went to check my Twitter timeline one more time. And then I remembered hearing about twaiku—haiku posted on Twitter. Why not? I typed in the poem, added the #twaiku hashtag, shut down my computer, and went to bed.
The next morning, I had a message from Mary Ann, and a tweet saying she liked the haiku and made a piece of art based on it.
So now this image is out there in the world. I don’t know what this means, but I like thinking about it. A moment becomes a poem; the poem becomes part of a visual art piece; the visual art conveys the moment somewhat differently but just as meaningfully. The collaboration is between two artists who have never met and whose shared workspace is an online forum best known perhaps for its required brevity.
I appreciate Mary Ann Reilly. I’m sure about that. Thanks, Mary Ann.