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Believing means liberating the indestructible element in oneself, or, more accurately, liberating oneself, or, more accurately, being indestructible, or, more accurately, being. --Franz Kafka

Instructions on Not Giving Up

--by Ada Limon, Apr 15, 2021

Academy of American Poets · Ada Limón: "Instructions on Not Giving Up"

Instructions on Not Giving Up

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out

of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s

almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving

their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate

sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees

that really gets to me.When all the shock of white

and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave

the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,

the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin

growing over whatever winter did to us, a return

to the strange idea of continuous living despite

the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,

I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf

unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

***

It was a hard winter. My whole body raged against it. But right as the world feels uninhabitable, something miraculous happens: the trees come back. I wanted to praise that ordinary thing as a way of bringing myself back too.




Copyright Ada Limon. Ada Limón writes frequently for the New Yorker (more poems here) and has published several books of poetry; her latest, Bright Dead Things, was a Finalist for the National Book Award.
 


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