Poem of the Week, by Ada Limon

The other day I recaulked my bathtub. Razored out the repulsive old caulk, chipped and dug, alcoholed and bleached. Cut the tip off the tube of new caulk but the caulk gun didn’t work and I couldn’t squeeze it out of the tube. So I razored open the tube, spooned the caulk into a little plastic bag, snipped a corner of the bag and drew a bead around the tub as if I was frosting a cake. This worked, kind of anyway, and the tub looks pretty good.

Later that afternoon I read this poem by the inimitable Ada Limon and pictured that mountain lion in envy and admiration. Her six-foot fence, my baggie of caulk. . .

The Mountain Lion, by Ada Limon

I watched the video clip over and over,
night vision cameras flickering her eyes
an unholy green, the way she looked
the six-foot fence up and down
like it was nothing but a speed bump
then cleared the man-made border
in one impressive leap. A glance
over the shoulder, an annoyance,
as As if you could keep me out, or
keep me in. I don’t know what it
was that made me press replay and
replay. Not fear, though I’d be
terrified if I was face to face with
her, or heard her prowling in the night.
It was just that I don’t think I’ve
ever made anything look so easy.  Never
looked behind me and grinned or
grimaced because nothing could stop
me. I like the idea of it though, felt
like a dream you could will into being:
See a fence? Jump it.

For more information about Ada Limon, check out her website.


Words by Winter: my podcast

Poem of the Week, by Ada Limon

Spots are still open in most of our one-day workshops this fall – maybe you should treat yourself to a class! Check them out here and let me know if you’re interested. I’d love to see you in one.

When I first read this poem, by the wondrous Ada Limon, it turned me still and focused the way all her poems do. I pictured my grandmother, a woman who refused to dance and was ashamed of her big body, the one time I came upon her swaying to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in the kitchen when she thought she was alone.

I pictured my other grandmother, who at the moment she died appeared to my sleeping mother flying overhead, calling her name in a voice restored to youth and happiness.

I remembered the owl in the tree above me, who tilted his head back and forth with mine, whose eyes stared direct and unblinking at my eyes. I thought about Ada Limon’s friend, and about those rare times in life when all the names and roles others give us fall away, and we are only our essential selves.

Open Water, by Ada Limòn

It does no good to trick and weave and lose 
the other ghosts, to shove the buried deeper 
into the sandy loam, the riverine silt, still you come,
my faithful one, the sound of a body so persistent 
in water I cannot tell if it is a wave or you 
moving through waves. A month before you died 
you wrote a letter to old friends saying you swam
with a pod of dolphins in open water, saying goodbye,
but what you told me most about was the eye. 
That enormous reckoning eye of an unknown fish 
that passed you during that last–ditch defiant swim. 
On the shore, you described the fish as nothing 
you’d seen before, a blue–gray behemoth moving slowly 
and enduringly through its deep fathomless 
North Pacific waters. That night, I heard more 
about that fish and that eye than anything else. 
I don’t know why it has come to me this morning.
Warm rain and landlocked, I don’t deserve the image.
But I keep thinking how something saw you, something 
was bearing witness to you out there in the ocean 
where you were no one’s mother, and no one’s wife, 
but you in your original skin, right before you died, 
you were beheld, and today in my kitchen with you
now ten years gone, I was so happy for you.

For more information about Ada Limòn, please check out her website.
Words by Winter: my podcast