A Rainbow in California, with Tanka

While most of this country was experiencing a snowy-stormy winter, here on the California coast we had an unusually balmy one. So last Monday morning, walking in some good ol’ San Francisco Bay Area fog seemed refreshing. I was surprised when those misty droplets got heavier, and I found myself caught in the rain.

For a reason I don’t recall, I stopped and looked behind me. A rainbow shined in the sky.

Though this was not the actual rainbow I saw, the scene was quite similar. This one is from public domain photos. Double rainbow by Andrew McMillan

Though this was not the actual rainbow I saw, the scene was quite similar. Double rainbow by Andrew McMillan from public-domain-image.com.

I had my rainbow pause—my moment with that amazing sight.

Then I was amused. Isn’t that just like California in 2015? When we get rain, we get a rainbow, too.

I’d been looking for a topic to respond to Margarita Engle’s tanka poem challenge on Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog. (Read about the challenge following Michelle’s great interview with one of my favorite authors: here. A tanka is a poetic form from Japan with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern. In other languages the lines can be short-long-short-long-long.) I had just found my topic. Here is the poem:

Amidst a dry March,
this misty California
morning turned rainy.
I turn around to find a
rainbow, smiling upside-down.


© Karin Fisher-Golton, 2015

After a draft or two, I realized an upside-down smile is also a frown. That seemed fitting too, in a time of climate change and in a poem with turns and words with multiple meanings.  Poetry, whether it’s mine or someone else, so often helps me notice more.

To me both meanings of the rainbow are true, the smile and the frown. Whatever meaning I give it, as with any rainbow, its awesome beauty was undeniable.

You can find many more poems for this Poetry Friday at Jone MacCulloch’s website, Check It Out, and mine and other tankas in response to Margarita Engle’s challenge on Michelle’s blog, Today’s Little Ditty.

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20 Responses to A Rainbow in California, with Tanka

  1. Linda Baie says:

    I know that ‘upside-down’ smile can be a frown, but when you put it in your poem, it just seems wonderful. Having a misty day here in Denver is a blessing. Glad you had the rain, too, thus a poem!

  2. cvarsalona says:

    Karin, rainbows always signify a special moment of happiness for me. Upside-down smiles are the rainbows of our lives. We wait for opportunities to happen.

  3. Donna Smith says:

    I see it more as a smile on someone standing on their head…or doing a cartwheel! It’s a joyful smile that can be seen even upside down – and rainbows are usually seen when the weather is a little topsy-turvy!

  4. PIT STOP
    Tattooing itself
    Temporarily against
    Earth’s darkening mood
    My new, multi-stripped best friend
    Stops by for a quick natter.

    (c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

  5. I’m so thankful for these moments, when life crystallizes into poetic goodness. Thank you for sharing your tanka in this month’s challenge!

  6. Great tanka! Oddly, I also put up a tanka about the weather with a reference to a rainbow. 🙂

  7. Heidi Mordhorst says:

    A real rainbow sighting is so special–glad you caught it and it caught you!

  8. I love that you found the beauty of the less than perfect weather and shared it with us in your tanka. That photo is an incredible sight!

  9. Laura Shovan says:

    “Around” and “down” work so well together. I hope you get a good, soaking rain — with rainbow — soon, Karin.

  10. maryleehahn says:

    I love hearing the story of how poems happen, and the author’s thoughts about their meanings! We often had rainbows in eastern Colorado. Not so much here in muggy Ohio.

    • Thank you Mary Lee–I love hearing those stories, too. Interesting to be reminded that some places are more prone to rainbows than others. I’m so glad we get the occasional ones here. I hope one surprises you in Ohio one of these days soon.

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