What I Didn't Know Before by Ada Limón
was how horses simply give birth to other horses. Not a baby by any means, not a creature of liminal spaces, but already a four-legged beast hellbent on walking, scrambling after the mother. A horse gives way to another horse and then suddenly there are two horses, just like that. That's how I loved you. You, off the long train from Red Bank carrying a coffee as big as your arm, a bag with two computers swinging in it unwieldily at your side. I remember we broke into laughter when we saw each other. What was between us wasn't a fragile thing to be coddled, cooed over. It came out fully formed, ready to run.
Runaway Child by Ada Limón
The ocean was two things once, in two places, north it was the high
icy waves of Bodega Bay, Dillon, and Limantour, and south it was the blue ease
of Oceanside and Encinitas, umbrellas in a sleepy breeze.
It took me years to realize those two blues were the same ocean.
I thought they must be separate. Must be cleaved in the center by a fault line.
On a call just now with my grandmother she mentions how all the flowers
I've sent are from my garden, so I let her believe it. Sweet lies of the mind.
She says she's surprised I like to grow things, didn't think
I was that kind of girl, she always thought I was a runaway child.
She flicks her hand away, to show me her hand becoming a bird, swerving
until it is a white gull in the wind. She repeats: a runaway child.
Mercy is not frozen in time, but flits about frantically, unsure where to land.
As children, they'd bring us to the ocean, divorce distraction and summer,
we'd drift with the tide southward until we'd almost lose sight of them,
waving dramatically for our return, shouting until we came back to the shore.
Once, when she was watching us, I tried to run away, four or five years old,
and when I got to the end of the driveway, she didn't try to stop me. Even shut the door.
And so I came back. She knew what it was to be unloved, abandoned by her mother,
riding her bike by her father's house with his other children, late afternoons,
before her grandmother would call her home for supper. Some days, I think
she would have let me leave, some days I think of her shaking on the shore.
Now, she thinks all the flowers I've sent are from my garden. Grown
from seeds and tended. She gets a kick out of it, this runaway child
so overly loved, she could dare to drift away from it all.
If I Should Fail by Ada Limón
The ivy eating the fence line, each tendril multiplying by green tendril, if I should fail the seeds lifted out and devoured by bristled marauders, blame only me and the strip of sun which bade me come to lie down snakelike on my belly, low snake energy, and be tempted by the crevices between the world and not world, if I should fail know I stared long into fractures and it seemed to me a mighty system of gaps one could slither into and I was made whole in that knowledge of a sleek nothingness.
We Are Surprised by Ada Limón
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.