Ada limón , lucky wreck
Publisher: Autumn House Press
2006, 88 pages, paperback, $14.95
ada limón’s first collection of poems, lucky wreck, creates a world where one can solve “the problem of the wind / with an orange.” In stating this, limón’s poems become a series of problems and solutions, that is, “peelings.” Limón’s speaker introduces this idea of ‘peeling’ in the poem “First Lunch with Relative Stranger Mister You” when she says, “What to do with the problem of the orange? / Let me tell you something Mister, / you’ve got to peel it.”
The book consists of four sections, and in the first section, the speaker introduces a complex continuum of desire and violence. “My fist is like a kiss. / I want a shirt that says, Kiss Me or I’ll Cut You. / I want to start every sentence with, / Let me tell you something, Mister.” Other poems, such as “The Lost Glove,” place an overt emphasis on the unnamed “you.” The speaker says, “Do not forget what I accuse you of, saying / do not forget that You are the you in this poem.”
The second section continues to evoke desire and violence, but the themes are more closely intertwined. “The Circus Folk Find Fault in Their Own Humanness” includes the lines, “Still, our finest failure, / our human parts uncovered and / raw like a tiger wound / we cannot find a reason to touch one another / without a gasping audience in the room.” Yet in “All Kinds of Shipwrecks,” subtle shift transpires when the speaker says, “[W]hat would I rather be: / the diver, or O lucky wreck to have been found?” Violence and desire remain, but they transition into the more personal tone of the third section.
In contrast to the other sections, “The Spider Web,” is the only one to use a distinguishable form, a crown of sonnets, and a more personal tone is affected through the introduction of a more intimate and domestic setting. Themes such as imprisonment and freedom introduced. While earlier poems have alluded to these themes, “The Spider Web” is especially interested in them. Yet the speaker is ambiguous about her desire for freedom. If I had my choice, I’d have a boat of my own, / The sails would be my skin, the bow my bones…I’d fly the flag and name her, Unmanned Woman.” The irony and ambiguity, of course, result from the speaker’s claim that she does not have a “choice.”
The fourth section emphasizes the desire for movement and freedom. In “The Lessing Table,” everything – the table, the silverware, and even the conversation – becomes miniscule until the only possible action is to “pass” a note that says, “Make the train wheels lock. / Make the mobile stop. / Do something, do something.” However, it is the final poem, “Thirteen Feral Cats,” that creates a whole from the individual “parts” of the collection. In doing so, lucky wreck progresses from desire, violence, and ambiguity, to an acceptance and even a praise of “the walls / and all the parts of us they manage to hold so dearly.”