Still life in colour

They were sitting in La Barantine in Bruntsfield, at one of the two tables that gave a good view of the passers-by on the pavement directly outside. It was at such an hour of the morning that the sunlight, slicing over the high roof-tops, cast a square of buttery light on their table. Before them were two steaming cups of milky coffee, their foamy surfaces decorated with a delicate fern-leaf pattern. Vuillard or Bonnard might have painted this scene, thought Isabel: the tables, their covers, the display case of delicacies – it was all a tiny island of colour and comfort that would not have been out of place in an intimiste painting: Man and woman in a cafe, morning, perhaps, or Mme Dalhousie prend du cafe avec M. Stevenson. She liked the titles given to paintings; they could be so pithy and poetic, first lines of an incomplete haiku.

– from The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus, 2016)

Le journal illustre, now known as Woman Reading, was painted by Impressionist Edouard Manet in Paris in about 1880 and forms part of the Mr and Mrs Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection at the Art Institute Chicago. Image: Art Institute Chicago

winter evening
an unbought brioche
under glass

Jennifer Popolis, The Wonder Code (2017)

early evening rain –
the man at the bar
folds his paper into quarters

Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 15.3 (2013)

tea ceremony —
it begins & ends
with an empty cup 

Stanford M Forrester, The Signature Haiku Anthology (2020)

Le Déjeuner des canotiers or Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-August Renoir dates from 1881. It is now owned by The Phillips Collection in Washington DC. Image: Wikipedia

midday
the coffee turns
to wine

Tom Clausen, The Wonder Code (2017)

river dripping
from both the oars
one last wish

Sharon Pretti, Another Trip Around the Sun (2019)

near evening …
willow shadows return
to the river

Mohsen Farsani, The Wonder Code (2017)

What is love?

A moving prose poem about love by the ever-erudite Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith, from Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers (Polygon, 2013). His paragraphs are not usually this long!

And it did not matter who or what it was that we loved. Auden said that when he was a boy he loved a pumping engine and thought it every bit as beautiful as the ‘you’ whom he later addressed. We loved people because they were beautiful or witty or smiled in a way that made us smile; we loved them because they spoke or walked in a certain way or because they had a dimple in exactly the right place; we loved them because they loved us or, sadly, because they did not love us; we loved them because they had a way of looking at things, or because there was a certain light in their eyes that reminded us of the sunlight you saw caught in a rock pool on a Hebridean Island; or because they wore a kilt or black jeans or a Shetland sweater or could recite Burns or play the guitar or knew how to make bread or were kind to us and tolerated us and our ways and our stubborn refusal to stop loving them. There were so many reasons for loving somebody else; so many; and it made no sense to sit and think about whether it was a good idea or not because love was like a bolt of lightning that came from a great cumulonimbus cloud that was far too great for us to blow it away; and it struck and we just had to accept it and get on with the business of trying to exist while all the time there was this great wave of longing within us like a swell in the sea, one of those great rolling waves that comes in off the Atlantic and hits Ardnamurchan and cannot be fought against, because fighting love like that is hopeless and you should just go under and let it wash over you and hope that when you come out from under the wave you will still be breathing and that you have not drowned, as people could – they could drown in love, just drown.

Although I don’t bother with the retail aspect of Valentine’s Day, it is nice sometimes to reflect on love, this strangest – and strongest – of emotions and today is as good a day as any.

unfinished sampler
the small hearts
not yet crossed

Holli Rainwater, from Another Trip Around the Sun anthology

Newly in love –
so many things I
refrain from mentioning

Phillip Rowland, from Stepping Stones anthology

harvest dance –
the way I still fit
your arms

Sandra Simpson
from Building a time machine (NZ Poetry Society anthology, 2012)

a shooting star –
in love, not knowing
where it will lead

Madoka Mayuzumi, from Haiku Love anthology