Reading List

“Every single drop of it.”

In a slim volume of just 62 poems with cover art from her painter mother, Ada Limón manages to articulate the wonders of the world and voices—especially in three specific poems—the texture and flavor of issues at the core of my own longings and concerns. She includes in the first section her poem “The Raincoat,” which has elements of perspective similar to Billy Collins’ “The Lanyard,” but shifts tone to mother and daughter from mother and son, and Limón includes the somatic materiality of her troubled spine and its lifelong aching. In the second section, “The Real Reason” begins with the two sentences: “I don’t have any tattoos is not my story to tell. It’s my/mother’s…” As with other lifeline poems I’ve clung to on a slippery deck in the midst of stormy seas, “The Real Reason”—grounded in the specificity of Limón’s own experience and circumstances, which are not in their details the same as mine, although I, too, don’t have any tattoos—names and then makes universal and stable what might otherwise feel like an impossible righting. In the third and final section, “The Last Drop,” a prose poem, centers in parental Alzheimer’s, but then ranges across relational and self-identifying topics—much as a person with Alzheimer’s might do—before settling into a last line that summarizes the astonishing, ironic beauty of life’s messes: “It means all of it is good, every single drop of it is good.” Limón’s next book, The Hurting Kind, will be released in a few weeks, on May 10, and I’ve pre-ordered it; her poetry, for me, stands among sacred text.
This weekend, worldwide observances of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan intersect, and I wish for you every blessing if you’re able to rest and feast with family and friends, whether for these faith-centered holidays or for seasonal change itself. Next weekend, I won’t be reaching out here; I’ll be focused instead on celebrating my middle and youngest sons as they and their fiancées marry, one couple on Friday night and the other on Saturday morning (!!!), as many as possible of us gathering around them to say, “May your new family-of-two blossom; may this love of yours grow forever; may you know the persistent happiness we have known, the happiness in the face of it.” Every single drop of it.