Moss-covered threshold gate rusted shut the way through is not to go there
As literary, even the smallest text has a unity based on a fold or turn. But before that level of analysis, there’s the forward motion by extending an aspect of a double. Hamill in his introduction to Lu Chi’s Wen Fu: The Art of Writing (Milkweed) describes the literary form of this third century Chinese classic (Lu Chi was executed for treason in 300 CE) as follows:
“Lu Chi’s fu is that of the p’ien wen or ‘double harness’ style; the poem depends upon a kind of parallelism, often moving two ways simultaneously through the deliberate use of ambiguity: ‘Things move into shadows and vanish; memory returns in an echo.'”
In this haiku the first line leads us into a space; the first image of the next line stops the motion; the turn of the poem begins with the concept “the way through” which is followed by a surprising “not” — the way is not to go . . . It’s as if the wanderer remembered the phrase “not to go there”; it is indeed a vernacular turn at this moment, as in “don’t go there.”
“Metaxyturn” names the moment when the given spaces close in on themselves — an aporia — and then suddenly there’s a “way through” as if it opened up because of the aporia. Having accepted the finality of the closure, the opening comes from the other side. I think the sudden rhythm of the third line communicates that sudden opening, even though it’s just an acknowledgement of an alternative route. By ‘alternative’ I mean I suppose utterly other!
The lack of punctuation may initially be a problem for some readers but on rereading, the lack allows the reader to “perform” the metaxyturn in their own breathing. In this way I like to think that the poem has a “form” that depends on a happening, the shaping movement of the metaxy as contingency gives way to the im/possibility of grace.
Or, as Lu Chi says, whatever is given passes away and “memory returns in an echo.”