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Published: Thu Apr 15 1982
Art by Jin Suk.  CLICK HERE for AGNI’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on November 4th!
A Girl Combs Her Hair

after Li Ho

Recently cut she is unaccustomed
to the blunt end

just above her moist shoulders.
Even in the morning

the air feel close—closer
than his shirt

slipped over her head.
The comb glides through the luster,

and stops short.
She thinks of fingers. Hands

gripping the small of her back. She leans
against the wall. He could have

brought flowers. The girl wants
to sit for a while on the fire escape:

to listen to the water
draining the open fire hydrant

and cooling the street and children—
to figure out the look he gave

when she turned and small hairs
scattered across the pillow. But already

it’s so oppressive. She would collect
all her combs and snap them in half

but a scent keeps her
from moving from the sheets.

By her scandals she notices an orchid
in white tissue. She reaches.

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Kimiko Hahn is the author of ten books of poetry, including Foreign Bodies (W. W. Norton, 2020). Her previous works include The Artist’s Daughter (2004) and The Narrow Road to the Interior (2008). She is a distinguished professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Literary Translation at Queens College, City University of New York.  She received her MA in Japanese literature from Columbia in 1984. She is the recipient of a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, and an Association of Asian American Studies Literature Award. (updated 4/2022)

 

 

 

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