Paying Attention with Ada Limón
The poet Ada Limón said “Poetry is a way to remember our relationship with the natural world is reciprocal...it’s having a place to breathe and having a place to pay attention.”
Earlier this month, Limón was named the newest Poet Laureate of the United States. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress said of her in the news release: “Ada Limón is a poet who connects...Her accessible, engaging poems ground us in where we are and who we share our world with. They speak of intimate truths, of the beauty and heartbreak that is living, in ways that help us move forward.”
Reading poetry about the natural world, and then allowing it to spark your own words, grants you another invitation to that breathing room. It offers space and time for the grounding and the truth that come from paying attention to who and where you are.
First there was the blue wing
of a scraggly loud jay tucked
into the shrubs. Then the bluish-
black moth drunkenly tripping
from blade to blade. Then
the quiet that came roaring
in like the R. J. Corman over
Broadway near the RV shop.
These are the last three things
that happened. Not in the universe,
but here, in the basin of my mind,
where I’m always making a list
for you, recording the day’s minor
urchins: silvery dust mote, pistachio
shell, the dog eating a sugar
snap pea. It’s going to rain soon,
close clouds bloated above us,
the air like a net about to release
all the caught fishes, a storm
siren in the distance. I know
you don’t always understand,
but let me point to the first
wet drops landing on the stones,
the noise like fingers drumming
the skin. I can’t help it. I will
never get over making everything
such a big deal.
—from "The Carrying" (Milkweed Editions, 2018) by Ada Limón
a writing prompt
Use the poem as a prompt for your own writing.
Make a list of the last three things that happened....or use your words to make one of the days "minor urchins" that you noticed into a big deal....or just start wherever you like.