“An Open Letter to Our New Poet Laureate” by Mara Eve Robbins

Mara Eve Robbins


Why am I not allowed delight?
—Ada Limón, “Give Me This

There’s pizza on the stove, Ada, along with a plate
of July tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
because I was hungry until it was dark
and I want to send this before midnight.
Even those tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
are not tempting enough to trouble me
because I want to send this before midnight.
It’ll be easier to eat then.
Today, what tempts me into trouble
is you. Good trouble, like we wondered
if it’s still possible we will eat each other alive,
human sushi wrapped in the ocean’s dementia.
You did so good tumbling into wonder,
new shots of faraway cosmos reminding
humanity wrapped in brackish forgetting
we’re here with trees that swallow questions
like shots with friendly comradery reminding
us of biscuits or a seven foot blacksnake
climbing the tree to swallow whole, no question:
groundhogs, goldfinches, silvery fish.
Biscuits for everyone I thought this might be for but you.
I listened through all the things I didn’t do
while watching groundhogs, finches, silvery fish.
You carried me through the worst of the fear.
I’m listening to a playlist called “Dead of July,”
eating the tomatoes, the worst of the fear
already on my plate so I grabbed pizza instead
because I’m hungry now. It’s dark.

from Poets Respond
July 17, 2022


Mara Eve Robbins: “When I first wrote this poem it was called ‘Request to Hang Out with Ada Limón after She’s Interviewed for RVAmag by S. Preston Duncan While Doing Chair Yoga with Hannah Levin.’ I coveted Preston’s audacity in requesting an interview via poem, so I promptly wrote a poem back. Audaciously, I hope. And in a fit of bolstered confidence I sent them to both Ada via messenger. She responded, ‘Wow!’ What a wonderful thing to wonder about, that wow. In the midst of crumbling systems everywhere, humanity grasping for itself amidst such violence and catastrophe. When I wrote this poem for the second time I called it ‘Telling Preston.’ But tonight? Third time’s the charm. Because the poem is to Ada. Because I had not gotten such good news in such a long time. Because suddenly I was looking at pictures of deep space, and it’s Pema Chodron’s birthday, and Ada is Poet Laureate! Because it makes me inordinately happy to connect with her by googling her name and hitting the ‘news’ button and having so many pages pop up! Because I want to use exclamation points three times in a row! Writing this poem felt like being allowed delight. Thank you, Ada.” (web)

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