Poem of the Week, by Ada Limon
My dog is sleeping on the couch right now. We can read each other’s minds; before I get up from this table in a few minutes to go for a run, he will already have jumped down and trotted over to me, knowing I’m about to leave. When I return, he will be waiting at the door to greet me. He doesn’t wake up disturbed like me at the daily news, which even though I don’t watch television and I avoid certain headlines, I know anyway. It’s in the air, in the invisible waves that connect us to each other and the world. It’s a battle not to give in to the disgust and despair and cynicism and snark that sometimes feels omnipresent and, weirdly, more socially acceptable than hope. Hope is harder, and so is the steadfast work that makes things better. The dog in this beautiful poem reminds me of my own dog. Not everything is bad, he says, in action if not words.
– Ada Limon
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 break-necking 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 body towards
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.
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