the snail remains
in its shell
Comment: in this highly topical haiku, the containment measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic have influenced not only humans, but the whole of nature. The snail (katatsumuri かたつむり) hesitates to come out of its shell, probably due to the presence of the poet. However, it is as if a more subtle threat was perceived in the air: a sneaky, invisible enemy thriving on fear that could induce irrational behaviours. The dash (–) at the end of line 1 seems to be linked to the social distancing rules that are currently affecting human relations around the world. The alliteration of the sound ‘ai’ in line 2 gives a sense of stillness to the closing ku, while the repetition of the sound ‘s’ emphasizes the subtlety of the actual health threat.