796: It Must Be The Supermarket in Me

796: It Must Be The Supermarket in Me

796: It Must Be The Supermarket in Me


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

Today’s episode is special to me because I have the opportunity to announce the new host of The Slowdown. If you’ve been with me through each of my over 250 episodes, you know how much I care about this show, my producer, Myka, and you, our listeners, our readers, and so I am beyond thrilled that I can tell you The Slowdown will be in good hands as I am called to serve as the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States. Something I’m never going to get over.

The new host is none other than the poet Major Jackson. Major and I have known each other for over twenty years and I was delighted to hear that he was selected to take over the show.

With Major as the new brilliant host, I know The Slowdown will benefit from his insight, humor, and wisdom.

I know that daily doses of poetry help me move through the world with a bit more groundedness, a bit more humanness, and I hope it does for you too. I need to be reminded not to miss the world, not to miss this life, and instead lean into what it offers. If you feel at all isolated or at odds with the world, I hope The Slowdown can remain a place to come for some ease, some sense of connection. I know Major Jackson will be helming the ship with both grace and warmth.

Today’s poem is an exploration on what it is to be always offering something of the self. I love how this poem makes room not just for a certain formal quality of the self, but also for what is buried underneath that sense of order.

It Must Be The Supermarket In Me
by Major Jackson

It must be the supermarket in me,
all lit from inside, full of wide aisles
and thoughtful shelf-stocking
where you’ll find my feelings and
memories. That’s why on the outside
I look so ordered and put together.
My inner supermarket contains
an old-world butcher shop and fish market.
Shoppers arrive with an unfathomable
hunger which I relieve by 
offering freshness, quality, 
and value. Some are penniless 
and can only fantasize, licking their lips 
at rows of artisanal cheeses and meats
behind glass display cases, the clothbound 
bries and goat, at ropes of cured 
salami and prosciutto. Still 
they taste. I offer free samples 
at stations throughout
my supermarket so people will
come to know and like me. 
In the produce department,
many test my pears and avocados
for ripeness. In the floral area, they sniff.
Some walk off with my bouquets.
I contain cheerful baggers 
who will escort you to your car. 
At times, truthfully, I dislike this 
about myself, forever accommodating. 
I’ve not always had a supermarket in me.
It began when the church in me 
lost its congregation and when 
I lost my mother’s love to cocktails
and other stimulants. There is no place
for anger in my supermarket. I keep
it in the backroom with a sign that reads
“No Trespassing: Employees Only.” 
It’s a way of being in the world,
a self, full of checkout lines and refrigerators, 
until someone runs through me, 
knocking down my pyramids of canned 
goods or panic shopping, leaving empty aisles.

"It Must Be the Supermarket in Me" by Major Jackson. Used by permission of the poet.