Ada Limon (NYC, USA): Three Poems


Packing the car as if they were punctuating
an old song with too-loud drumbeats,
she thought the word suitcase seemed
old-fashioned and she was not of this era.
She was her mother's mother, her kissing
mouth turned into a tight twist of, We're
moving too slowly, we're losing.
He slammed the trunk with a final cymbal
crash and she folded into the sound, the song
they made boiled up its own lyrics, said,
Bring me the road, bring me the thick-black
of nothing, let me swallow the asphalt,
eat that yellow line until it splits me in two.


White car. Woman who looks like
the librarian from elementary school.
Dead squirrel. Rogue redwood. Glare
of every big bad sunrise's pressure
to keep alive. Stick-shift. Radio.
This is called what? Living. A little
unkind invitation to meet an end-point,
to push through this small town's
generated hum and see someone else's
gas station, someone else's dead squirrel
and name it, found.


She rests her head on the window wet
with breath and fog just outside
the Harris Ranch on Interstate 5.
She remembers her mother's head
hanging low in her hands at a
rest stop around here somewhere,
her face having lost its scaffolding
of Okay, we're all okay, and fallen.
Peel of wind, she pictures the velocity
equation. One must have speed
and direction to calculate anything.
What do we push through? And where to?
In her brain's engine too many past
tenses drag their heavy feet in black
tunnels, slow the globe's spin.
She wants to be empty, the night
before it's broken by an owl's screech,
that one moment at dawn at some
roadside Red Lion Inn where you
forget where you are, and how far
you've come to get there, your mind
gone white-hot clean before thousands
of wet hands, the fat lip at the reservoir,
the closet floor, the dead cat, the dead,
come in and enter with the blinds pulled
back. She thinks she could go farther
faster without the drag of what she carries;
nothing but her body's own quiet
insistence to accelerate.

© Ada Limon 2009