cover image The Carrying

The Carrying

Ada Limón. Milkweed, $22 (104p) ISBN 978-1-57131-512-0

“I will/ never get over making everything/ such a big deal,” declares Limón (Bright Dead Things) in her gorgeous, thought-provoking fifth collection, in which small moments convey “the strange idea of continuous living.” Materialist rather than metaphysical, these poems are deeply concerned with interconnectedness: “my/ body is not just my body.” Flora and fauna suffuse these poems, and the green-ness is almost overwhelming, but Limón duly confronts life’s difficulties. “It’s taken/ a while for me to admit, I’m in a raging battle/ with my body,” she writes, facing bouts of vertigo and struggling to conceive a child: “perhaps the only thing I can make// is love and art.” She also tackles such social ills as misogyny, racism, and war. In “A New National Anthem,” she writes, “the truth is, every song of this country/ has an unsung third stanza, something brutal/ snaking underneath.” Limón’s typically tight narrative lyrics feature simple, striking images, (“Women gathered in paisley scarves with rusty iced tea”), and her unsettling dream poems avoid becoming exercises in surrealism. Four “letter-poems” to poet Natalie Diaz also demonstrate versatility, shifting into looser meditations that sprawl across the page. “I live my life half afraid, and half shouting/ at the trains when they thunder by,” Limón claims, but this fearless collection shows a poet that can appreciate life’s surprises. (Aug.)