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Three Zuihitsu by Kimiko Hahn

Of course, there are common words

Poetry | Zuihitsu
April 15, 2022

This piece is part of the 随筆 | Zuihitsu notebook, which features original art by Satsuki Shibuya.

Nouns That Have a Religious Quality

Lacquer, wood, moss, rock, straw

The lacquer can be black or orange. And, even a personal item, such as a natsume for tea powder, named after its resemblance to the jujube and—father told me—a high-ranking tea utensil. I have a plastic one I bought when I took a few classes in Niigata, 1972.

Moss in a garden or under a tree. I love to discover a clump with British Soldiers, although now that I look it up, I see the name is for a lichen. Further search—I find polytrichaceae. One site notes they have teeth! And one kind is known as the Bristly Haircap. I might be wrong, considering there are over twelve thousand species of moss. But I think I’m correct.

(There are also “moss imposters.”)


Of course, there are common words, although they have little personal meaning anymore: chalice, alter, liturgy

Also, cross, although the word can be noun (post with traverse bar or a hybrid), verb, and adjective

The most important object to me is a stack of flat stones or a single plain stone around which I tie a tiny bib. R asked why I have such things in several nooks, and I told him about Jizo. How she or he is the Buddhist patron saint of children—hence the bib. We stack stones to help the babies who do not make it to the afterlife and whose task it is to do so.

More than blood—cerise, maroon, scarlet, vermillion.


People should teach young children how to deal with stairs. On my last visit, I caught Luca stairing down into the basement, those steep stairs so inviting to a two-year-old boy. Mother was crazy about teaching a toddler (any toddler!) how to step downstairs “like a big kid,” alternating feet instead of using the same one foot to descend. And yesterday, as I entered the subway stairwell, I saw a woman carrying a small girl, an older one lagging behind, and a middle girl doing that one-step-same-foot-at-a-time-thing. Ah, yes. The middle child. The one who does not receive radiant attention. A kind of stepchild


number of eggs laid in a single brood by a nesting pair of birds

Mother’s ostrich purse. Or maybe it was snake.

vehicular mechanism

noun, in sports: occurring in a situation in which the outcome of a competition is at stake

Phrases from online dictionary:
clutch one’s pearls mainly humorous be extremely or excessively shocked or appalled: apparently everyone at the film festival is clutching their pearls in horror over the explicit sex scenes in his new film
in the clutch US informal at a critical moment: why are some athletes able to perform in the clutch while others choke? 

a tight grasp, even a controlling necessary to escape

(or alligator?)

“You’ve really got a hold on me” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles