Three Poems

by Ada Limón 

We Are Surprised

Now, we take the moon
into the middle of our brains

so we look like roadside stray cats
with bright flashlight-white eyes

in our faces, but no real ideas
of when or where to run.

We linger on the field’s green edge
and say, Someday son, none of this

will be yours. Miracles are all around.
We’re not so much homeless

as we are home free, penny-poor,
but plenty lucky for love and leaves

that keep breaking the fall. Here it is:
the new way of living with the world

inside of us so we cannot lose it,
and we cannot be lost. You and me,

are us and them, and it and sky.
It’s hard to believe we didn’t

know that before; it’s hard to believe
we were so hollowed out, so drained,

only so we could shine a little harder
when the light finally came.

 

The Noisiness of Sleep

Careful of what I carry
in my head and in my hollow,

I’ve been a long time worried
about grasping infinity

and coaxing some calm
out of the softest part

of the pins and needles
of me. I’d like to take a nap.

But not a nap that’s eternal,
a nap where you wake up

having dreamt of falling, but
you’ve only fallen into

an ease so unknown to you
it looks like a new country.

Let me slip into a life less messy.
Let me slip into your sleeve.

Be very brave about my
trespass, the plan is simple—

the plan is the clock tower
and the lost crow. It’ll be rich.

We’ll live forever. Every moon
will be a moon of surrender

and lemon seeds. You there,
standing up in the crowd,

I’m not proud. The stove
can’t boast of the meal.

All this to say—consider this,
with your combination of firefly

and train whistle, consider this,
with your maze and steel,

I want to be the rough clothes
you can’t sleep in.

 

Torn

Witness the wet dead snake,
its long hexagonal pattern weaved
around its body like a code for creation,
curled up cold on the newly tarred road.
Let us begin with the snake: the fact
of death, the poverty of place, of skin
and surface. See how the snake is cut
in two—its body divided from its brain.
Imagine now, how it moves still, both
sides, the tail dancing, the head dancing.
Believe it is the mother and the father.
Believe it is the mouth and the words.
Believe it is the sin and the sinner—
the tempting, the taking, the apple, the fall,
every one of us guilty, the story of us all.
But then return to the snake, poor dead
thing, forcefully denying the split of its being,
longing for life back as a whole, wanting
you to see it for what it is, something
that loves itself so much, it moves across
the boundaries of death, to touch itself
once more, to praise both divided sides
equally, as if it was almost easy.

Read An Interview with Ada Limón on our blog.

About Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of three collections of poetry, Sharks in the RiversThis Big Fake World, and Lucky Wreck. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals including Harvard Review, TriQuarterly Online, Poetry Daily, and The New Yorker.  She has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry. She is currently a judge for the 2013 National Book Award in Poetry and will join the 2014 faculty for the low-residency MFA-Latin America for Queens University of Charlotte. She is currently finishing her first novel, a book of essays, and a fourth collection of poems. She works as a writer and lives in Kentucky and California.

 

Ada Limón

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