The Dream of a Lacquer Box

By Kimiko Hahn Kimiko Hahn
I wish I knew the contents and I wish the contents
Japanese —

like hairpins made of tortoiseshell or bone
though my braid was lopped off long ago,

like an overpowering pine incense
or a talisman from a Kyoto shrine,

like a Hello Kitty diary-lock-and-key,
Hello Kitty stickers or candies,

a netsuke in the shape of an octopus,
ticket stubs from the Bunraku —

or am I wishing for Mother? searching for Sister?
just hoping to give something Japanese to my daughters?

then again, people can read anything into dreams

and I do as well. I wish I possessed
my mother’s black lacquer box

though in my dream it was red,
though I wish my heart were content.

Source: Poetry (May 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2012


Kimiko Hahn is the author of Toxic Flora (2010) and The Narrow Road to the Interior (2006), both published by W.W. Norton. She teaches at Queens College, CUNY.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Parenthood, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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