Kimiko Hahn

The Third Sequence: Time
September 15, 2011 Hahn Kimiko

from The Third Sequence: Time


“‘People have a hard time understanding the passage of time,’ Dr. Zauberman said, ‘and in order to understand it latch onto something we do understand’–the unfolding of events.”

Grandma’s voice, her eyes squinting to see who’s still awake in the fragrant dark–
Epigraph: But the Parsee came down from his palm tree wearing his hat, from which the     rays of the sun were reflected in more-than-oriental splendor…
Titles like “The Tell-Tale Heart”
A chapter on repetition and how it holds everything together even as everything threatens     to explode–or implode
For Father
Lists are about grief, she insisted.

“… [S]cientists are not sure how the brain tracks time.”

First tooth, first molar
First day at Noah’s Ark Nursery School
First period
First dance in the junior high gymnasium and first kiss–actually unwanted–
First apartment, painted hospital-green and stepping over junkies in the vestibule
Second apartment: after a murder down the street the Chinese family abandoned the         Westside two-bedroom for Flushing
Current apartment, a shotgun across from Prospect Park
First dog named Hachi–then Stella, now fifteen
Second husband coming up with titles for first collection after I described feeling              suffocated: Breathing Room, Air Stream, Air Pocket
First death (pigeon)
First death (mother)
First language
First tooth–which belonged my baby, not me–
Third husband’s the charm

“In earlier work, researchers found a similar dynamic [at play] in people’s judgment of intervals that last only moments.  Relatively infrequent stimuli, like flashes or tones, tend to increase the speed of the brain’s internal pacemaker.”

Not a blue giraffe ride outside the supermarket
Not a stomachache
Not grandma washing my hair in the kitchen sink
More, a spoonful of ice cream.  Pistachio.
A forkful of birthday cake.  Devil’s food.
Not a train ride
Not a haircut
A shower–a shower in a white-tiled hotel bathroom with white towels and bathrobe and   white silence–the full force of it.  He’s washing my back–
Not awake at 4 a.m.
Not tying shoes in the rain
More, kissing farewell under an umbrella in a storm
(Wasn’t the thunder deafening?)
Watching snow from the window before bed, the soft sounds, the sounds softened.  It’s     Christmas morning in Brooklyn.
(Not birth)  (Not birth?)

“Left to its own devices, the brain tends to condense time.”

Soup, orange juice, milk–
He stirred a saucepan of dulce de leche and fed her with the spoon.  He loved her,     romantically, but it wasn’t the romance she needed.  “Still,” she murmurs, “it feels like   yesterday,”
Suddenly her body could no longer feel things it once took for granted.  Even the t-shirt   no longer chafed her breasts.  And his hands–
To reduce to another and denser form, as a gas or vapor to a liquid or solid state.
“Those scientists who maintain that the future holds the possibility of food             administered in a condense form in capsules are, if they attempt the practice of           their theory, rushing wildly either to the insane asylum or the sepulchre.”  Harvey       W. Wiley, The New York Times, March 8, 1908
I didn’t want to stop.  Or, yes, I wanted to never stop.
compress, consolidate, … digest, epitomize, abstract, abbreviate
Turkey Tetrazzini for Two
“What about yesterday?”
Practical Home Nursing: <>
“What about yesterday?”
“Blah blah yesterday—”


NOTE:  These section-titles are from: “Don’t Ask the Brain Where Time Went” by Benedict Carey, The New York Times, 1/4/10.

Kimiko Hahn is the author of nine collections and often finds that disparate sources have triggered her material—whether Flaubert’s sex-tour in The Unbearable Heart, an exhumation in The Artist’s Daughter or classical Japanese forms in The Narrow Road to the Interior.   Rarified fields of science prompted her latest collections Toxic Flora and Brain Fever (both W.W. Norton) as well as a new chapbook, Cryptic Chamber (Epiphany). Collaborations have led her to film and the visual arts. Hahn’s most recent award was a Guggenheim Fellowship and she is a distinguished professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Literary Translation at Queens College, The City University of New York.