last ball –
leaping with the leaves
There are poems which must be read right from the beginning by empathy with the author’s intentions. As if, guessing his thoughts, you yourself would be the author and would build a realistic fact, well above reality. And then you can feel that there is no way that the author could refer in the first line to a real ball, no matter how famous or wished for, let alone to the toxic ball on a Saturday evening.
Last ball is then just an invitation to attend and to take part mentally to an event which is not mundane at all, which takes place every year, when the life of the vegetal world and that of the insects ends. It’s a farewell dance which can last without anyone getting tired for days and weeks on end. The phrase – maybe from now on at least a kigo substitute – easily slips towards the figurative meaning that it shares together with the leaves and with the ladybug. The autumn atmosphere is only weaved through the fairytale threads of the leaves and of the ladybug stuck into the stretched warp in-between the last ball and the leaping. Beyond the elliptical part, of autumn, as well as of other kigo words that could have evoked it, not even the initiator and agent of the event, the wind, is not explicitly mentioned, but only suggested through the leaping, the bouncing of the leaves. Just as the dance itself, the essence of the ball, is only implied through the suggestions of the ball and of the leaping.
Last ball accumulates thus an ironic function as well, slightly malicious, directed towards the poor leaves involved in involuntary whirlpools and turbulences. Even more so as leaping, far from being a gallant invitation to dance, involves a brutal and violent punishing action of an alleged authority – arrested, being taken away by force.
If the two parts of the poem had not been put together like this, the ball would have remained a simple prom, and the leaping of the leaves just a pointless flight – different realities, detached from one another, lying stiff in their ordinary existence. That is, without the playful undertones of a suggestive dialogue. As they are, however, they challenge the reader’s imagination to cast them in unbelievable roles, as fabulous, as plausible. In a haiku, the composition elements forget what they are to dedicate themselves to some roles which reinvent themselves.
(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)