This poem appears in the Fall 2022 / Winter 2023 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe to the journal, click here.

Makoto Nakamura left Japan
In nineteen sixty-three so he could turn
A woodland near a small Ohio town
Into a rustic garden. I walked down
A tree-lined hill, admiring his plan.

Emerging from the trees, I took a path
That led me to a bridge across a pond.
The bridge was made of heavy, rough-hewn stones
Of mottled grey, like old cathedral bones
Or ruins sinking in a Roman bath.

I crossed the bridge and, midway, I could see,
Beneath the water, sunlit streaks of gold
As koi meandered in their tranquil way,
Shimmering on a cloudless summer’s day,
Apparently oblivious to me.

I knew the garden was an artifice,
Less natural than the woods that it replaced,
But there was wisdom of an equal worth
Uncovered by the movement of the earth,
Engendering a metamorphosis.

I thought of all the seasons come to pass,
The years elapsing since the paths were laid,
The landscape architect returning home,
And townsfolk leaving off their work to roam
Among the weathered stones and flowing grass.