682: At Forty, the Mountains Are More Green

682: At Forty, the Mountains Are More Green

682: At Forty, the Mountains Are More Green


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

The other day I was wondering what would happen if I just stopped worrying about my body. My new book of poems is coming out and I was telling my podcast producer, Myka, who is recording this with me now, how it’s so strange to do the work of publicity. First you worry about the poems, only the poems, one word, one image at at time, and then you worry about putting them together in a book, and then you worry about the cover, and then, with author photos and readings and press shoots, you worry about your ... face and … your body … and that doesn’t seem like it should ever be part of any of it.

And so I’ve been working on not worrying. Just being who I am in my body. I’m not saying I am successfully not worrying all the time, but I am working on it. And sometimes when I fail and catch myself saying something unpleasant about how I look in a mirror or a photograph, my friend Vaughan says, “Hey, be nice to my friend, Ada.” And so that’s what I’ve been trying to do, to be nice to my friend, Ada.

Part of this work is also about just trying to live as freely as possible. I realize that yes, I may have ongoing pain, and I may have mysterious health issues now and again but wouldn’t it be good if I could just get up in the morning and move through the world and just feel whole, and complete, and exactly who I am meant to be? It’s a radical notion for me. It’s a radical notion for anyone who has grown up in our society.

I love to think about how the neighborhood fox gets up and thinks about maybe catching a squirrel, it doesn’t think about its beauty. Or rather maybe it thinks it’s gorgeous, maybe that fox wakes up and thinks I am a fox! Foxy! Here’s my wish, I want to feel free in my body and in that pursuit, I’ve begun to like myself more.

Today’s poem is a moving exploration of the body and how all the animals of the planet want to remember their natural instincts, their original selves.

At Forty, the Mountains Are More Green
by Keetje Kuipers

Here the melting, there the glacier
already gone. All these years, I’ve watched 
my body as if from a distance

nearly geologic: the comings and goings
of a thousand tiny fossils against my flesh.
Last night, beside my sleeping wife’s form

in the ageless glow of my phone,
I scrolled past the before and after
of butt implants, celebs who maybe did

or didn’t, and the pregnant model
who last week had the silicone removed
from her breasts. I’ll still have boobs,

she said, they’ll just be pure fat. Upstream,
they’re taking out the dam, diverting
the creek. This morning, I woke to the dull

scalpel of dozers. Soon they’ll loose the fish
from the chute and finally the bodies
within that body will be free.

"At Forty, the Mountains Are More Green" by Keetje Kuipers. Used by permission of the poet.