2 December 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 4

Of Foreign Lands and People

The day my brother brought me to the pond

of one thousand screaming white swans

it was winter in Akita. I'd spent the morning

trading picture-words on napkins

with the lacquer-box maker and his tiny wife

who took scissors to delicate paper, conjuring

moonscapes and improbable blossoms.

We understood each other perfe