cover image Foreign Bodies

Foreign Bodies

Kimiko Hahn. Norton, $26.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-393-43927-4

Under the exquisite vision of Hahn (Brain Fever), familiar objects assume the feel of the sacred. “How to store the object of your ardor, even to stay what harms/ (junk drawer, purse,... flash drive)?” the poet asks and, in response, finds countless ways to take in, preserve, and express what threatens to disappear. “Pay attention to attention,” she instructs her daughters, generously illustrating the lesson through example: “This is a poem on my other’s body/ I mean my mother’s body, I mean the one// who saved her braid of blue-black hair/ in a drawer, I mean the one// I could lean against—/ against as in insistence.” What the poet calls “the jazziness of play” is present as she moves between English and Japanese linguistic and poetic traditions, and her precise physical descriptions and scientific observations are juxtaposed against the writing’s exuberance: “The puppy snarfles to be let out.” “Now I’m sixty,” the poet admits, “Sweet as dried papaya.// My hair, a bit tarnished,/ my inmost, null.” “If you only have clay on hand, then from clay even/ the centipede is cast,” she writes in what is, above all, a testament to artistic maturity, and to making of life’s various materials necessary, vital work. (Mar.)