and a sort of light woke up underneath

Some satisfyingly fleshed-out verse from one of my favorite young poets, Ada Limón (1976-).



Maybe my limbs are made
mostly for decoration,
like the way I feel about
persimmons. You can’t
really eat them. Or you
wouldn’t want to. If you grab
the soft skin with your fist
it somehow feels funny,
like you’ve been here
before and uncomfortable,
too, like you’d rather
squish it between your teeth
impatiently, before spitting
the soft parts back up
to linger on the tongue like
burnt sugar or guilt.
For starters, it was all
an accident, you cut
the right branch
and a sort of light
woke up underneath,
and the inedible fruit
grew dark and needy.
Think crucial hanging.
Think crayon orange.
There is one low, leaning
heart-shaped globe left
and dearest, can you
tell, I am trying
to love you less.


that’s how I will remember you

I guess I’ve been on a bit of a memory/remembering poem kick these past few days. Here’s a piece from one of my favorite poetry books of 2010, Sharks in the Rivers, by Ada Limón (1976-).

“This Practice”

They say the first thing that goes
is the short-term memory. We forget
our keys, we forget the address,
we forget the name of the president.
I like to think it’s just a matter of practice—
we’ve had more time to practice the memory
of our brother’s face, our favorite light,
the creek that runs down the center of town.
I want to practice. Like the Russian soldier
who had to make up a word to say how
hard he would fight, said he would fight
fiercefully, that’s how I will remember you,
that’s how I will practice—fiercefully.

You say you love the world, so love the world.

This new book of poetry from Ada Limón (1976) is definitely one of the best I’ve read all year. How to choose just one…

“The Same Thing”

There’s an awful story in the news.
For days you cannot sleep; it’s too hot, it’s too cold.

It’s just a story in the news.

Not another human, not a whole country,
not another animal, just a piece of paper.

Then you feel a little better.
You go to the train and wear your headphones,
you listen to a sad song that sounds familiar.

You pass a store window and there’s someone
you don’t know walking where you’re walking: heels,
a summer dress, hair tied up too fancy for the week.

The television says tomorrow night they will
shed some light on hell.

How far do we need to search for some bad thing?
Hell is not beneath us, not a bargaining chip with your children.

You come home on the train and you have
bought gifts and tried to be decent.

This is how your life will go, you know that. Day after day.

Awful acceptance: the soft life of your footprints.

You start to think of the alternative,
you shake your real shirt off in the hallway.

Would it be the same if you were born in Mexico? Life.
Cuba? Ireland? 1974?

You miss everyone. Even the people you read about today
you didn’t know, their faces on the brain as if on paper.

You sit on the balcony,
which is really a fire escape, but you call it
the balcony to make it sound better.
You wear the slip your grandmother gave you

fifteen years ago, the weather is nice, California nice.

You sing a little, call your family, you think, things aren’t so bad.

You say you love the world, so love the world.

Maybe you don’t even say it for yourself,
Maybe you move your mouth like everyone
moves their mouth. Maybe your mouth is the same
mouth as everyone’s, all trying to say the same thing.