561: from "frank: sonnets"

561: from "frank: sonnets"

561: from "frank: sonnets"


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I think a lot about beauty and awe. Its ethereal quality. The thing we can’t name. The overwhelm of the world. I remember once a long time ago, sitting by the edge of the dark blue Atlantic ocean in Cape Cod and thinking of how much I wanted to become one with that vastness. To be swallowed by what the world offered back to me. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to become part of the indescribable oneness of the ocean. I wanted to be beyond the self, beyond the neediness. That might not make sense but it’s the only way I can describe it.

There are sensitivities you can’t put into language sometimes. I have a friend who is happily married and she once told me “Sometimes you just have to google divorce.” It made me laugh, but sometimes you just have to know what the possibilities are, in order to recognize the choice that love is. The choice that living is. Sometimes you have to stare out into the expanse of an ocean to recognize that you are smaller than most things.

In today’s transcendent poem by the brilliant Diane Seuss, we watch as the speaker contemplates both death and beauty. I want to warn you that this poem deals specifically with suicidal ideation, so if you’d rather skip this episode please do. Always protect yourself.

But for me, this poem is about how owning your life is also about recognizing when numbness happens. And how even the desire for a big feeling, to be part of awe, can bring us back into the world. And how the making of the poem, in the end, can save us.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255.

from “frank: sonnets”
by Diane Seuss

I could do it. I could walk into the sea. 

I have a rental car. It’s blue and low on fuel.

I have feet, two, and proximity. I could do it.

Others have before me. Jeff Buckley (1997) he

was only 30. Carol Wayne (1985) the Matinee Lady

and a photo spread in Playboy. Dennis Wilson (1983)

after diving for a photo of his ex-wife he’d tossed

overboard years earlier. Hart Crane, well of course

Hart Crane (1932). Socialite Starr Faithfull (1931),

she was only 25, she drowned in shallow water near

the shore, her lungs all full of sand. Starr left behind

her sex diary, current whereabouts unknown. 19 men.

It’s dark. I love the dark and it loves me.

It would be fun! I could walk into the sea!

Sometimes I can’t feel it, what some call

beauty. I can see it, I swear, the conifers

and fat bees, ferns like church fans and then

the sea, its flatness as if pressed by stones

like witches were, the dark sand ridged 

by tides, strewn with body parts, claws,

the stranded mesoglea of the moon jellyfish,

transparent blob, brainless, enlightened in its clarity.

I stand there, I walk the shore at low tide, the sky

fearless, not open to me, just open, there it is,

the wind, cold, surf’s boom drowning out

thought, I can photograph it, I can name it

beautiful, but feel it, I don’t know that I am 

feeling it, when I drown in it, maybe then. 

From "frank:sonnets" by Diane Seuss, from FRANK:SONNETS by Diane Seuss, copyright © 2021 Diane Seuss. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.