A Letter to the Poet Ada Limón

1 January 2018:

Dear Ada,

Did you ever fall in love with Richard Hugo? I can tell you I did once. And aren’t the initial run-ins always the best?—when a new-to-you poet picks you up off the ground and says hello, here is a poem. When a poet seems to say: Here’s what you’ve missed, kid. Here’s what you can do.

Isn’t that the best?

Hugo did that for me. Now you’ve done it. I wanted to tell you.

December was full of poems scratched out from under your spell. I even stole one of your lines.

Some blur of a bird. That’s the line I stole. I confess. I call the poem, “Poem Beginning with a Line by Ada Limón.” Maybe one day it will be published, and I hope you will consider its title a fair-enough citation.

Did you know in Oklahoma there is a town called Ada? It’s small and charming in its way. I think there are still a few brick streets. The wind blows like mad.

I think you could find something useful there, something more than Blake Shelton—something to call your own and craft into a poem, like the way you used the overpass-swallows in your poem, “Outside Oklahoma, We See Boston.” You could find something like that to call your own there. Like a passing scissortail or the water tower.

I think I’d like to tell you, too, that I twine you and Richard Hugo together (which is why I opened this letter the way I did). There are reasons why, which I won’t try to elaborate here. But in my mind, that’s the way I see it. And maybe all we ever have to ourselves are our own questions, our own connections.

I read in your first book about how one of your friends, Ms. Red (real or otherwise), used to sign her letters to you with the date and temperature.

Here, then, is Montana.

December 29th.

10 degrees at dawn.

How is Kentucky this time of year?


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