A Hundred Gourds 3:1 December 2013
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Commentary: On a haiku by Lorin Ford

by Garry Eaton

beer garden table
the blurred edges
of many circles

Lorin grew up as the daughter of a publican, and no doubt wiped her share of beer garden tables. I think of this haiku as an elegiac tribute to that life: at once her Tabard, her Mermaid's Tavern, and her Harry Hope's Saloon.

In the form of barely visible rings of beer left drying on tables when the drinkers are gone, she offers us ambiguous symbols of the evanescent conviviality of the pub, where one from any social circle has the freedom to mingle with anyone else for as long as money or consciousness or tolerance allows.

But there is a deeper level to the symbolism. Though at the end of the night only the beer rings left by the various drinkers will remain, to be easily wiped away, Lorin's careful choice of the word 'blurred' hints that it may be growing late in another sense. Amid the opportunities pubs present for positive and creative associations, inebriation is a two-edged blessing. In this place, almost anyone's individuality, status or reputation can be at risk, can even be deliberately forfeit, and in her memory of the life of the pub, clearly some regret is mixed with the fondness she feels.

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