This selection comes from a book-length sequence of poems that feel so much quieter than even my most quiet work. Like many things born during the pandemic, they are simultaneously meditative and inward and outwardly observant. Watchful and distant yet intimate and enclosed. They mirror this on the page–at times expansive and at times very jammed. I was spending a lot of time both thinking about and experiencing deserts of many kinds–both geographic and metaphoric–and the poems themselves are grains of that sand dust, inconsequential on their own, heavy en masse. At the same time, I was spending a lot of time in my garden with my garden cats (just offscreen) and feeling very lucky and grateful to have this refuge, even in a big city like Chicago. Gardens are at the center of some of our most fundamental human myths and embody one of our enduring contradictions: our awe at the beauty of the natural world and our desire to control and shape it for our pleasure. You may see that tension in my own garden, which I struggle to tame, not wanting to inhibit its growth while wanting to have paths to walk or sit amongst it. Depending on your perspective, I am a good and a bad gardener, but I’m happy to hide there.
Carrie Olivia Adams lives in Chicago where she is the Promotions and Marketing Communications Director for the University of Chicago Press and the poetry editor for Black Ocean. Her books include Be the thing of memory, Operating Theater, Forty-One Jane Doe’s, and Intervening Absence in addition to the chapbooks “Proficiency Badges,” “Grapple,” “Overture in the Key of F,” and “A Useless Window.” When she’s not making poems, she’s making biscuits.