almost lost
in the shimmer of water
several ducklings

—Alan Summers

This haiku has been carved into stone at a haiku park in Katikati, New Zealand (this is a very traditional Japanese custom!). See this site and more details here.

Also, Kuni-san, a haiga artist, has made the ducklings haiku into a digital haiga.

This haiku also appears in Raku Teapot: Haiku
Book: 1-891691-03-1
CD: 1-891691-04-X
pub. June 2003

About the author: Alan's haiku and poetry is published in over 60 anthologies, and a number of languages. He regularly reads, performs, and workshops from venues as diverse as possible including shop windows; inner city rainforests; cliff tops; to the more orthodox places...on occasion. His website is:

Contact: alan at withwords dot org dot uk

Responses to the haiku for 26 January 2001 by Alan Summers

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-09-08 18:58:56

    it is a very nice haiku.

    i pondered the necessity of "in".

    in reading "in" within the framework of the haiku, it creates a deep feeling of remorse.

    then, i read "in" being left out, and it broke up the feeling of a sentence being read, and giving line two more of a contrasting point. i began feeling the struggle.

    jen c
    2008-05-12 12:10:39

    I was just looking through the archives and ran across this one. I love it! As I read it, "in" is definitely needed, because the ducklings aren't actually lost, but visually lost in the brightness of the sun on water. Well done.

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-05-13 13:02:18

    jen, times i'm too brief. this haiku reminded me of a viking funeral, for whatever reason. the ducks aren't lost(almost), but momentarily indistinguishable from the water's shimmer.
    there are a few definitions for "lost" & "in". following your usage of the words (in) defining the words usage, left me perplexed; was it the glare. j/k
    shimmer of water-
    several ducklings
    almost lost

    2008-05-13 13:32:17

    Thanks for the responses. One other way to read the poem is incorporating the middle line as a pivot line:

    almost lost
    in the shimmer of water

    in the shimmer of water
    several ducklings

    I overlooked the ducklings for a few seconds as it was a very bright Queensland (Australia) day, and the glittering water put me into a pleasant mild trance.

    Jen c
    2008-05-14 08:41:51

    bob, my response was confusing; strike the word "because". I was befuddled by your original response and so was trying to clarify for other newbies like myself. Now I see that you meant "in" could be left out if the whole haiku is rearranged, which makes sense. I must admit your responses generally go over my head - we must just be on 2 different shimmering wavelenghts! ;)

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-05-14 18:17:53

    jen, your words generated warm, heartfelt laughter. times, i'm penalized for verboseness; equally, my brevity leaves some scratched heads.
    jen, i wouldn't say "different wavelengths"; merely each viewing a segment of the many prismatic colours, on the same rainbow...


    empty milk bowl
    by the door--
    tawny alley cat