Poetry Friday: “With her, at midnight”

This post was originally published way back in Dec. 2012, just 5 months after I had first started this blog. As our family gears up for our annual trip over to York Beach, Maine, I was contemplating my life, and my wife, and my kids, and Covid, and all the things we’ve gone through this past year…and I remembered this poem. With summer almost upon us, I felt like it was the perfect time to share it again, in case you hadn’t seen it the first time around!


For my final Poetry Friday post of the year, I’m sharing a fairly new poem that I completed just a few weeks ago.  I wrote this for my wife, Jen, and since it describes a muggy, summer evening, I thought it might help to melt some of the heavy, wet snow that fell in this part of the country yesterday.

This is a tanka, pretty much the only surviving form of waka, a term that once encompassed many forms of Japanese poetry.  You may notice that the first three lines are similar to a haiku, with their 5-7-5 syllabic structure; however, haikus are a relatively new form of poetry, having been developed in the 19th century (haikus were borne of the original hokku form, which dates to the 1600s, but waka forms go back to the 6th century).

By the way, this week I learned that the Japanese word haijin means either a crippled person, or a haiku poet. Makes sense.

So now that your history and vocab lessons are over, on to the poetry! 


With her, at midnight

Within the warm, thick
soup of night clouds and orchids,
breaths heavy as air
silence jealous crickets; stars
glisten skin, damp and moonlit.

– © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine,
all rights reserved


How’s this for coincidence: Carol Wilcox is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup with a spotlight on poet Jeannette Encinias at her blog, Carol’s Corner – and would you believe it was Carol who was hosting Poetry Friday 9 years ago, when I first published this post! That’s right, I shared my post on her 2012 roundup! Crazy, isn’t it??


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30 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “With her, at midnight”

  1. Nice job, Matt! Thanks for the definition of haijin, too. I can see why “crippled person” applies–someone who is having trouble moving goes more slowly–is more aware of her surroundings–just like a haiku poet!

    Happy 21013!


  2. Those first two lines were especially gorgeous – so sensuous and engulfing. And thank you for all the information about Japanese poetry – there is so much to learn, so many forms with which to speak!


  3. Pingback: Poetry Friday: “Mud Pies for Sale!” « Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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