Pachysandra & Two Other Poems

Kimiko Hahn

Baba, open your mouth so I can see your uvula,

the three-year-old granddaughter keeps saying.
And I don’t want to display my crowns to the one
calling me Baba which, strictly speaking,
means Old Hag but was easier than Obaachan
for a one-year-old and maybe I am, given the dental issues.
And maybe she’ll keep up her investigation so
I hand over my mobile: Take selfies of your own uvula!
And that works until she gets another great idea:
How about you find a picture of a whale’s uvula?
Of which there’re only cartoon examples. Then,
Baba, does a barracuda have a uterus? Little ones
are eruptions of questions and quests. Really

one in the same. I’m struck that uvula and uterus share
the same first letter, leading me to wonder about the you.


was the only green I learned to grow
by watching Mother kneel on a path
above the septic tank, knot each root,
and anchor one-by-one
into the stinking-rich soil
and so, after she died, I took
a basket-full from her yard
for an elegiac ground cover
until today when the postman,
seeing me stand over the patch,
said, just rip it out. Yes,
now their lush chokes
not only the cat-mint but also one other.

Walking from Point A to Point B in Queens

A buzz saw downing a tree. An LIRR train wheezes by.
A small child calls out, fuckyou. I think,
I didn’t hear that word until I was in junior high:
Jimmy Thomas, walking on a stone wall behind the school,
slipped and shouted–Fuuuuuck–then steadied himself,
reddened but pleased when a group of girls smirked,
flipped their long hair, and stalked off
in matching mod white boots. A baby wailing this time.
Another train. A plane overhead. M’s first word was plane
we’d have picnic dinners on the Columbia quad,
planes roaring over us towards LaGuardia. At three,
she asked, What’s “fuck”? after I cursed at a bicyclist
who nearly ran us over on Broadway. Now I’m in Queens,
the planes are descending towards the same tarmac.
Those girls were the cheerleaders. I stayed away from them
not because they were mean, but because I was afraid
they’d be mean. I was afraid of everyone. Loud or soft.

Kimiko Hahn has cast a wide net for subject matter over her ten collections, including the forthcoming The Ghost Forest: New and Selected Poems. The Narrow Road to the Interior takes title and forms from Basho’s famous journals. Reflecting her interest in Japanese poetics, her essay on the zuihitsu was published in the American Poetry Review. Hahn is the 2023 recipient of the Ruth Lilly Prize for Lifetime Achievement from The Poetry Foundation. Other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, PEN/Voelcker Award, Shelley Memorial Prize, and NEA Fellowships. In 2022 Hahn was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Hahn is a distinguished professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Literary Translation at Queens College, The City University of New York.