Elfchen, Anyone?

My husband Jihong returned home the other night from a month-long visit to China, where he had gone for both personal and professional reasons. Among other things, he enjoyed wonderful reunions with his 80-year-old father, his brothers and their families. 

When he got home, we exchanged gifts. Mine for him was small but unique: an elfchen.

(Yeah, I had the same reaction when I first heard the word. What the heck is an elfchen?)

I’d been invited to write an elfchen for an informal gathering of Honors College students, faculty and guests at the South Dakota State University. Everyone who attended the gathering, held the night before Jihong’s return home, was asked to create one of these five-line poems that focuses on a single subject. An elfchen has a very particular structure: the first line has one word; the second line, two; the third line, three; the fourth line, four; the fifth and final line, one word. As I tried this German poetic form on for size, I found myself enjoying it very much. Very Zen. 

Because Jihong’s return was imminent, his homecoming became my inspiration. Here’s the elfchen I ended up composing:

home
windows wide
birdsong through lace
our two heads, one
pillow

Such a small poem, but you can pour so much into that tiny vessel. Maybe you’d like to try writing your own?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s