660: Flowers, Poems, Flower Poems

660: Flowers, Poems, Flower Poems

660: Flowers, Poems, Flower Poems


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I was just texting my best friend as I sat down to work on this episode and she wrote, “Any fun ones about our best friendship?” It immediately made me laugh, which I needed to do, which somehow she always knows I need to do. If you know me personally, you would picture me laughing. I laugh a lot. You might read my poems or listen to my episodes and think I’m always serious or contemplative and I’m those things too, but mostly, I’m laughing. And it’s not just because my best friends are comic geniuses, but it’s also because they know what I need.

Once, when two people in my life were dying of cancer, and there was very little light in the world, we were walking through Brooklyn and because it was Brooklyn, a man dressed as a clown walked by. We didn’t say anything, but after a little while, my friend said, “I know, I know what you’re thinking, it’s like even that clown has cancer.” And I burst into laughter. Sure, tears probably followed, but it felt so good to laugh, even at the awfulness.

Nearly twenty-five years ago we were in a yoga class in Seattle and the instructor said to switch feet while you were in lotus pose and T held both of her feet up to me and said, “Oh no, I don’t know which foot was on top!” And I laughed so hard that the poor kind yoga instructor had to guide the class to ignore what was happening in the “rest of the room.” The rest of the room being me. Never undervalue the people in your life that know what you need. Even if it’s just laughter.

In today’s poem we see a celebration of the power of women. How women know what to do sometimes, and how like flowers, women must go on opening and opening.

Flowers, Poems, Flower Poems
by Rachelle Toarmino

A woman I’ve never met sends me tulips from two states over.
	         There are things women know to do.

They sit on my desk next to the window. I love flowers
	         because they’re ordinary on one side

of the glass and a gift on the other. I keep them alive
	         to remember I can. There are things

women know how to do. Clipped and caged and I think
	         that’s beautiful. What could be more feminine

than dying a slow death and another creature calling it
	         beautiful. A hymn for every howl. It’s crazy

when you think about it. Whatever you call it
	         it’s the one thing that brings me back into myself,

dancing naked in the mirror and making faces in the glass.
	         I only ever wanted to make you feel my feeling.

You want to make me mad so you can call me mad
	         well I am mad. You knew who I was

when you spun me like a prom queen and I kept my eyes open.
	         I showed you my rotten nature. A woman

can spend her whole life spinning, arranging flowers
	         and I intend to. Not now but I’ve decided to die

like a tulip in March on the desk of a stranger and opening.
	         Sweet enough for you now? Still opening.

"Flowers, Poems, Flower Poems" by Rachelle Toarmino. Used by permission of the poet.