And Softened Rains

In the garden
where the old tree fell
last winter
I buried the memory
of the carving
we inscribed

What we used to say
to each other
had risen too high
for the echo
to find its way
back to us

Though there are still flowers
they’re waiting for shade
and softened rains
that won’t come
for this year’s bloom
or the next

Jeffrey Yamaguchi

April 2, 2022

Disappearing Swan

This is a collaboration with the artist Maggie Umber. I took a photo during a quiet moment in the Fall, capturing a lone swan majestically making its way along the still water. It inspired me to write a poem, and I posted both the photo and poem online. Maggie saw this post and was inspired to paint the image, and during the process, the swan disappeared. I was then inspired to write another poem, and create an image of the photo, artwork, and poems, side by side.

It really resonated with me how the swan disappeared in Maggie’s painting. Was it a mirage? Pure imagination? A dream? Or just life — there it is, and then it is gone. And yet the moment lives on — in memory, a photograph, artwork, and poems. The smallest, quietest, fleeting happenings have a way of just going and going, and perhaps that is what truly binds everything together and helps us make sense of our lives and the mystifying world around us.

Maggie is a truly amazing artist making all kinds of innovative work, including one of my favorite graphic novels — Sound of Snow Falling. Her forthcoming graphic novel — Chrysanthemum Under the Waves — is one of the books I am anticipating the most. The disappearing swan piece she painted is available as a print via her website.