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by American Poet Ada Limón
After the birthing of bombs of forks and fear,
the frantic automatic weapons unleashed,
the spray of bullets into a crowd holding hands,
that brute sky opening in a slate-metal maw
that swallows only the unsayable in each of us, what's
left? Even the hidden nowhere river is poisoned
orange and acidic by a coal mine. How can
you not fear humanity, want to lick the creek
bottom dry, to suck the deadly water up into
your own lungs, like venom? Reader, I want to
say: Don't die. Even when silvery fish after fish
comes back belly up, and the country plummets
into a crepitating crater of hatred, isn't there still
something singing? The truth is: I don't know.
But sometimes I swear I hear it, the wound closing
like a rusted-over garage door, and I can still move
my living limbs into the world without too much
pain, can still marvel at how the dog runs straight
toward the pickup trucks breaknecking down
the road, because she thinks she loves them,
because she's sure, without a doubt, that the loud
roaring things will love her back, her soft small self
alive with desire to share her goddamn enthusiasm,
until I yank the leash back to save her because
I want her to survive forever. Don't die, I say,
and we decide to walk for a bit longer, starlings
high and fevered above us, winter coming to lay
her cold corpse down upon this little plot of earth.
Perhaps we are always hurtling our bodies toward
the thing that will obliterate us, begging for love
from the speeding passage of time, and so maybe,
like the dog, obedient at my heels, we can walk together
peacefully, at least until the next truck comes.
SOURCE: The Carrying, poems by Ada Limón, published by Milkweed
Editions, Minnesota, USA, 2018.
ADA LIMÓN is a poet and
teacher who hails from
Sonoma, California. In
2001, she earned an MFA
from New York University.
Her publications include:
~ Lucky Wreck (2006)
which won the 2005
Autumn House Poetry
~ This Big Fake World
~ Sharks in the Rivers
~ Bright Dead Things
(2015), finalist for the
National Book Award & the
National Books Critics
Circle Award; and
~ The Carrying (2018),
named one of the top five
poetry books of the year by
the Washington Post.
She serves on the faculty
of Queens University of
Charlotte Low Residency
MFA program and the
online and summer
programs for the
Provincetown Fine Arts
Work Center. She also
works as a freelance writer
in Lexington, Kentucky.
Based on her work
schedule, she divides her
time between Kentucky,
California, and New York.
At a time when language is often used only as a blunt
tool, poetry reminds us that language can also be used
for nuance, mystery, and even radical hope.
Poetry is a place where both grief and grace can live,
where rage can be explored and examined, not simply
exploited... Poetry isn't a place of answers and easy
solutions. It's a place where we can admit to an
unknowing, own our private despair, and still,
sometimes, practice beauty... Poetry makes its music
from specificity and empathy. It speaks to the whole
complex notion of what it means to be human.
And that is exactly what we need more of these days: a
chance to be seen fully in both our rage and our
ADA LIMÓN IN HER INTERVIEW WITH JUDY WOODRUFF OF PBS NEWS
HOUR, DECEMBER 17, 2018.
Poetry is the right place for handling intense political and
personal topics because it never has to provide an
answer. It has no tidy ending and it’s not a polemic. It’s a
place for mess and truth and life and honesty and
complication and what’s more political than
acknowledging that something doesn’t have an easy
answer, and that our contemporary problems are also
our historic problems. So maybe we aren’t getting more
political, we are getting better at amplifying one another
and maybe, just maybe we’re getting a little louder so
that we can be heard over all the noise.
ADA LIMÓN IN HER INTERVIEW WITH STEPH OPITZ OF LITERARY
HUB, AUGUST 23, 2018.
MILKWEED EDITIONS / USA