One of my favorite places to go in New York is The Strand. I am biased, I know, but I really think it is the best independent bookstore. Two floors packed with new and used books, vintage and hard bound books, helpful staff who have encyclopedic knowledge of whatever section they work in and basically any book you could imagine. And cool swag too.
As I walked into The Strand yesterday, I saw propped up in the poetry section the newest collection by Ada Limon, who is…….pause for applause…..our next poet laureate. And I’m going to be honest…I teared up when I learned that news a few days ago, because I absolutely love her, really, her work, her voice (she’s got an amazing podcast called The Slowdown, where she shares a thought and then a relevant poem by another poet), of course her craft is exquisite but mostly I’ll say what I love, what I connect to is her vulnerability, her honesty. Her spiritual yearning and questions and her moments of revelation. Her work reminds me that I am not alone. That we’re all figuring it out as we go along. Her work reminds me of something I read by Melody Beattie, There is nothing fundamentally wrong with us.
And then, Ada takes all this and makes beauty.
So yesterday I took a moment, and looked at her book and said, thank you Ada, for all that you have done and hopefully will continue to do.
I’ll close with one of my favorites:
Instructions on Not Giving Up
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.