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Whose day?

Tagasode Valentine
Years ago, I made some collages using pages from a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image that leads this post is one. Inside the hearts and flowers is a picture from the MMA collection of  a Japanese screen made in the 16th century. It is titled Tagasode, which means Whose sleeves?  The title comes from a 10th-century poem:


The fragrance seems even more alluring than the hue,
Whose sleeves have brushed past?
Or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home?

Iro yori mo
ka koso awaredo
omohoyure
tagasode fureshi
ado no ume zo mo

The word haunts: tagasode. Whose sleeves? The question floats in my mind like a cloud on a still day. The sleeves materialize in my mind's eye. I hear them move through hushed air. I can imagine, though not name, the scent of the person to whom those sleeves belong. It's not unlike smelling the scent of your infant's clothes, or holding the perfume bottle that belonged to your mother...you don't need to open it... you know that scent so well. It is part of you. You know these scents with your love.

This Valentine's Day, I invite you to stop .... and remember ... those whose sleeves have brushed closely past you, whose feet have walked onto your path and shared it for a while...mother, father, sister, brother, friend, son, daughter, or if you are one of those fortunate few, a soul mate who spends this Valentine's Day at your side.

A happy, peaceful Valentine's Day to you, to those you love, and those who love you. Whose day is St. Valentine's Day? It belongs to all and any who risk entering the mystery of love.


Whose sleeves?
Metropolitan Museum of Art

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