Everyone I knew was living the same desolate luxury

After you read this poem by the former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith (1972-), listen to her read it here. And if you enjoy that, I highly recommend checking out her lovely five-minute daily poetry podcast, The Slowdown.

baklava sticky bun .jpg
the glossiest of pastry: a sticky bun with baklava on top (taken by me several years ago)

“Garden of Eden”

What a profound longing
I feel, just this very instant,
For the Garden of Eden
On Montague Street
Where I seldom shopped,
Usually only after therapy
Elbow sore at the crook
From a handbasket filled
To capacity. The glossy pastries!
Pomegranate, persimmon, quince!
Once, a bag of black beluga
Lentils spilt a trail behind me
While I labored to find
A tea they refused to carry.
It was Brooklyn. My thirties.
Everyone I knew was living
The same desolate luxury,
Each ashamed of the same things:
Innocence and privacy. I’d lug
Home the paper bags, doing
Bank-balance math and counting days.
I’d squint into it, or close my eyes
And let it slam me in the face—
The known sun setting
On the dawning century.

from Wade in the Water, 2018

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