768: Lately I Am Trying
768: Lately I Am Trying
I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.
I know it’s easy to be let down by humanity. You might be feeling let down by humanity right now. Humanity. Ugh, who needs it? And yet, amazingly, people can overcome loss or grief or great tragedy and just keep living. That perseverance can overwhelm me, can shred me into tiny pieces of emotional ash. It can flatten me. So I want to praise those little things that allow us to continue, the garden, the birds at the feeder, the friend who texts out of the blue to see if you’re doing okay.
My dog is one of those bright spots in my life, a reason to wake up or be kind to myself or walk or nap or laugh. Right now, my dog is sitting on the back porch watching the birds come and go from the feeder, still so upset that I dared to feed the flying beasts that flit in and out of our Kentucky backyard. Watching her makes me watch them, and for a while we are both just peacefully noticing the world. It's something I had forgotten to do. She brings me back to myself, yes, but she also brings me back into the world.
Today’s poem explores how the love of an animal can help us process grief and even remember the precious value of touch.
Lately I Am Trying
by Sanna Wani
to teach my dog how to be alive. When she arrived in my life, she was a surprise. And because she surprised me, she was a miracle. It was a time of death. It always is. I was afraid and then undone by her. She has never known her mother and when my mother sees her, she scrunches up her nose and says, “You have no mummy? Me too.” She just lost her mom. My brother was angry. He asked, “Who’s fault?” and I said the state. I had no answer. What does blame do in a catastrophe? The week after my grandmother died, I attended class. They were talking about what killed her like it was an inconvenience. Like it wasn’t a monster, haunting my bed, hunting the vulnerable. Who are the vulnerable? Those who work hard? Who were born? Who bear something that says, I might be possible to you? I don’t like that I wrote that, but I won’t erase it. Too grand. It forgets the bruised tendons of her hands the last time she held them out to me. The blister on her left heel the last time she walked. The last time I felt present with her, her breaking lungs, she sat up to eat. To drink milk. I threw out all her medication. My aunts were angry. I cradled her head in my hand and said, “Twenty four years ago, I was your baby and now you’re mine.” Someday my dog will die. I might touch her once before she goes. My parents are getting older. My brother is so far away and my sister’s house is flooded. The Texas snow. But I went on a walk with my Lola and sometimes she kisses the ankles she gnaws. When I want to kiss someone, my lips throb. Every touch is a miracle. All of you are so beautiful to me. Please. Teach me how to be.
"Lately I Am Trying" by Sanna Wani. Used by permission of the poet.