704: Hunter's Moon

704: Hunter's Moon

704: Hunter's Moon


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

What is it in me that’s been craving wildness lately? Perhaps as soon as I find myself dressing appropriately or doing the right thing all the right time, I am overwhelmed with the urge to find some sort of original freedom. To strip down to the wild animal self. To banish my schedule to its time out corner and just belong to nature again.

My dear friends have a little boy who is 6 and he loves to be naked. He was recently quoted as saying to his mother, “Clothes are the worst thing in the world!” And I think he’s onto something. There's something to be said for the ways we constrict ourselves, define ourselves, and limit ourselves when it comes to the performance of being a human being. Schedules, clothes, manners, acceptable behavior. I feel like that 6 year old sometimes. I want to shake it all off.

I was thinking earlier about how, for as long as I can remember, I have wanted…I think the word is…ease, to feel ease in my skin, in my life. There are few times that I’ve had it without trying, I’ll admit. And I’m getting better at cultivating ease as I age. But when ease has come, it’s because I’ve allowed myself, or been allowed by outside forces, to be more instinctual. To trust myself, to fight for something or someone I love, to lay down everything else and focus on what really matters, what feels like the pure instinct of desire.

I love the instinctual nature of attraction for example. The thing that feels indescribable and absurd. The strange ache or need or desire to see someone again after only a few hours apart. None of that makes any sense, but that’s the wild part of desire, it absolutely doesn’t make any sense, it just is, it just leads you to some primordial part of yourself. And there you are, all your human tools rendered useless, ready to heed the siren’s song. Oh love, you are so dangerous!

Of course animal instincts aren’t always good, they aren’t always the instincts we should follow, as we are human and prone to things like rage and violence and poor decisions. Still sometimes I want to be more like my dog or my cat, who search out their comfort, search out the ways to have their needs met. I want to just listen to the wild self and find out what it is I truly need.

Today’s poem honors the instinct of passion and desire. I love how this poem is as much an ode to the wildness of love, as it is an ode to the need in all of us to be set free.

Hunter’s Moon
by Ansel Elkins

She cannot hide
her line of footprints in the snow.
The trail leads from her window–
across the blank page of winter
field, across the barbed wire
fence and its posted sign that says No
Trespassing, across the night’s 
quiet deer path—and ends at his barn door.
At this late hour her only witness
is the private eye of
the moon, which hides
its voluminous histories of human
                                       and ours, too.
There is nothing between us
but the night. The hunter’s appetite
is instinct; it dwells deep
and urges you: Unleash
the wild animal that you are.
                 Unbury yourself.

"Hunter's Moon" by Ansel Elkins, from BLUE YODEL copyright © 2015 Ansel Elkins. Used by permission of Yale University Press.