reductio ad absurdum

The other day, I posted a differently cropped version of the photo above on Instagram with the caption:

Blossom above my head;
clouds in the sky.

Since then, I’ve been niggling and tweaking and wondering whether and how I can turn that into something a little more poetic.

I’ve written a lot on the blog about haiku in the past, including a piece “House of cards” which I adapted to include in my book Poems from the pueblo: haiku and assorted fragments. That essay talks about paring a poem down to its bare minimum – taking the pieces away until the card house collapses. But before I start removing things, let’s look more closely at what’s there and fiddle a bit to discover if there really is anything worthwhile.

“Clouds” is a bit vague, and it was definitely the big fluffy white clouds that caught my eye, so what about something a little more specific, like this:

Cumulus in a blue sky;
prunus blossom.

Maybe if I changed “prunus” to “cherry” it would sound more like a haiku, although the blossoms I’ve been looking at recently have all been the frilly ornamental cherry blossom, not the simpler blooms of the edible cherries we had in the garden in Spain.

Cumulus in a blue sky;
cherry blossom.

cherry blossom

As I have been tweaking and rearranging words and phrasing, the idea “as above, so below” has been going through my mind. Essentially, I’m looking at two things that mirror each other in some way.

The first concept is the clouds. There are so many different ways of expressing the same thought:

  • Clouds in the sky
  • White clouds; blue sky
  • Cumulus in a blue sky
  • April clouds
    (I know it’s actually May now, but I started thinking about this idea last mont. Also, I think the understanding of April showers is that they blow up suddenly then disappear, so the implication of an April cloud would be one that didn’t cover the entire sky.)

    Then of course we have the blossom:

  • Blossom above my head
  • Prunus blossom
  • White/ delicate/ frilly blossom
  • Cherry blossom
    I could take it back to the simplest form of very specific language:

    Cherry blossom

    But that doesn’t seem to have any poetry in it at all.

    Do I, in fact, need to say what kind of blossom it is? Would “blossom” on its own be sufficient? Does the type of cloud actually matter, or can I expect the reader to make the mental leap?

    If I strip it right back to the two simple concepts, the bare bones of the image are uncovered:


    And that seems to reveal a fundamental flaw: the word “clouds” is often used metaphorically to describe blossom, so the whole thing is unsatisfactory. Even if I find the right words to describe it, I may manage to create a pretty image, but it’s an unoriginal thought.

    ornamental cherry blossom against a cloudy blue sky

    But we’re living in “unprecedented times” and, as we come out of lockdown into the “new normal”, there are issues that are on everyone’s lips. Despite the uninspired foundation, perhaps I can do something with this that will make it encapsulate the spirit of spring, 2021:

    April clouds
    gran’s post-lockdown perm


    Author: don't confuse the narrator

    Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

    2 thoughts on “reductio ad absurdum”

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