And Then Even More Sky Comes
Thursday night was the kick-off for Seattle Arts and Lectures Poetry Series with the talented Ada Limón. It was a wonderful night all around as she read from Bright Dead Things. She talked about how "Poetry is an art form that is literally telling you to breathe, and breathe." She said she composes mostly out loud and encouraged all of us writers in the audience to "embrace your weirdness." She loves big endings and admitted that while they can be her crutch, they are important to her and she always wants "to stick it like Simone Biles." On stage, Limón was as fiery, funny, charming, strong and feminine as she is on the page. I could have listened for hours.
How to Triumph Like a Girl
I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let’s be honest, I like
that they’re ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don’t you want to believe it?
Don’t you want to lift up my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it’s going to come in first.
~ Ada Limón
And this one I loved too, after my own happy days spent in Montana:
Someplace Like Montana
Now when I go to the grocery store,
I’m amazed at the wide aisles of bright
food and food-stuffs and it’s nothing like
the bodega I shopped in for years
in Brooklyn between the bars we liked.
Once when I was going for groceries,
I ran into T, and we decided we needed
to drink, rather than shop, and we did.
There were a lot of beers on tap,
and the taps were all different like toys
in a dentist’s toy chest, so I said,
“I’ll have what she’s having,”
and maybe it was snowing out,
and it seemed to be at a time when
every shirt I bought at the secondhand store
would turn out to be see-through,
but I wouldn’t know it until it was too late.
So, a lot of conversations would start,
“Is this shirt see-through?” And it was.
We talked for a long time, grocery bags
empty on the chair, and we both talked about
moving to someplace like Montana
and how sometimes it would be nice
to see more sky than just this little square
between the bridges and buildings,
but then we’d miss Brooklyn and each other,
and we ordered another beer.
T was writing a play, also some articles,
and we both just needed some money,
and maybe to make out with someone
who wasn’t an asshole. But also, we wanted
to make great art. T was really good at naming
things so we decided she should be a “Titleologist”
and she liked that, so she agreed.
“What would we do if we lived in someplace
like Montana?” “We’d go for walks, and look at trees,
and write and look at the sky,” “Yes, and we’d cook
and go to those huge grocery stores that have toy cars
attached to the carts so kids can pretend to be driving,”
“Yes, and we’d probably have kids too.”
All of this seemed really far off and not like us at all,
so we ordered another beer and said, life was long.
Now, I’m walking around the grocery store,
in Kentucky and I’ve just looked a trees, and sky,
and I should write something, so I ask T to tell me
what to write about, she says, Saturation, and I think
of that feeling when you’re really full, or life is full
and you can’t think of anything else that could fit in it,
and then even more sky comes and more days
and there is so much to remember and swallow.
I ask T what I should call the thing I write about
Saturation, because she’s a titleologist, and she says,
“Someplace Like Montana.”
~ Ada Limón