Say tomorrow doesn’t come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun’s a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl’s eyes are pinpricks.
Say the racoon’s a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt’s plastic ditch-litter
Say the kitchen’s a cow’s corpse.
Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn’t matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you’d still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.
by Ada Limón
'Bright Dead Things buoyed me in this dismal year. I'm thankful for this collection, for its wisdom and generosity, for its insistence on holding tight to beauty even as we face disintegration and destruction.' Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You
A book of bravado and introspection, of feminist swagger and harrowing loss, Bright Dead Things considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact - tracing in intimate detail the ways the speaker's sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages past the capriciousness of youth and falls in love.
In these extraordinary poems Ada Limón's heart becomes a 'huge beating genius machine' striving to embrace and understand the fullness of the present moment. 'I am beautiful. I am full of love. I am dying,' the poet writes. Building on the legacies of forebears such as Frank O'Hara, Sharon Olds and Mark Doty, Limón's work is consistently generous, accessible, and 'effortlessly lyrical' (New York Times) - though every observed moment feels complexly thought, felt and lived.