jul 23, 2022
Ada Limón Is Named the Next Poet Laureate (The New York Times)
What Do Poets Laureate Do? (Library of Congress)
History of the Position (Library of Congress Q&A on Poets Laureate)
Click HERE to listen to "The Slowdown," a podcast which shares "A poem and moment of reflection every weekday" and is hosted by Ada Limón. This podcast was initially started by the 22nd U.S. poet laureate, Tracy Smith.
A Few of Ada Limón's Poems:
"Instructions on Not Giving Up" (1976)
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
The man across the street is mowing 40 acres on a small lawn mower.
It’s so small, it must take him days, so I imagine that he likes it. He
must. He goes around each tree carefully. He has 10,000 trees; it’s
a tree farm, so there are so many trees. One circle here. One circle
there. My dog and I’ve been watching. The light’s escaping the sky,
and there’s this place I like to stand, it’s before the rise, so I’m invis-
ible. I’m standing there, and I’ve got the dog, and the man is mow-
ing in his circles. So many circles. There are no birds or anything, or
none that I can see. I imagine what it must be like to stay hidden,
disappear in the dusky nothing and stay still in the night. It’s not
sadness, though it may sound like it. I’m thinking about people
and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than
anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine,
and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let
the savage grass grow.
When the doctor suggested surgery
and a brace for all my youngest years,
my parents scrambled to take me
to massage therapy, deep tissue work,
osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine
unspooled a bit, I could breathe again,
and move more in a body unclouded
by pain. My mom would tell me to sing
songs to her the whole forty-five minute
drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty-
five minutes back from physical therapy.
She’d say, even my voice sounded unfettered
by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang,
because I thought she liked it. I never
asked her what she gave up to drive me,
or how her day was before this chore. Today,
at her age, I was driving myself home from yet
another spine appointment, singing along
to some maudlin but solid song on the radio,
and I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.
No shoes and a glossy
red helmet, I rode
on the back of my dad’s
Harley at seven years old.
Before the divorce.
Before the new apartment.
Before the new marriage.
Before the apple tree.
Before the ceramics in the garbage.
Before the dog’s chain.
Before the koi were all eaten
by the crane. Before the road
between us, there was the road
beneath us, and I was just
big enough not to let go:
Henno Road, creek just below,
rough wind, chicken legs,
and I never knew survival
was like that. If you live,
you look back and beg
for it again, the hazardous
bliss before you know
what you would miss.