[encore] 534: The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.

[encore] 534: The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.

[encore] 534: The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.

This episode was originally released on October 29, 2021.


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

There are very few things as transformative in a life as falling in love. It’s almost cliché really, but it’s true. It changes you. Whether we want it to or not. I remember taking a short trip from Brooklyn up to Connecticut with my now-husband, before we had said those three loaded words. But both of us knew. We sat on the dock of a friend’s borrowed beach house and watched the moon over the water. It was beautiful and it was ridiculous.

I remember I kept wanting to ruin the moment with a joke. I kept wanting to make it less significant because I could feel things changing. I remember how good I felt with him, how solid, but I also remember how scary it all was. It felt like the firm ground I had depended on was shifting to sand underneath me.

It seems like it should be easy to fall in love. Don’t we do it all the time? But it wasn’t. At least not for me.

I knew that to admit how I felt would be admitting to a whole different life. A life that was intertwined with someone else’s needs and wants. A life that was at risk of heartache, loss, disaster. Later, when that love solidified in me like roots taking hold in the soil, I wanted to shout it out to strangers. I probably, annoyingly, did. But to this day, I am intricately aware of how falling in love is wholly terrifying.

Today’s poem by Donika Kelly captures that surreal moment where the danger of falling in love is balanced by the colorful aliveness of it all. When you can see all the possible painful outcomes, but you can also see the world as a new pulsating thing. This gorgeously wrought poem reminds us that love is one of the ultimate forces of nature.

The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.
by Donika Kelly

I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs

and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead

on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow

feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.

I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot

feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls

skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.

To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white

petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am

in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.

"The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feeings." by Donika Kelly from THE RENUNCIATIONS, copyright © 2021 Donika Kelly. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.