768: Lately I Am Trying

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.