I’ve come here from the rocks, the bonelike chert,
obsidian, lava rock. I’ve come here from the trees—chestnut, bay laurel, toyon, acacia, redwood, cedar,one thousand oaks
that bend with moss and old man’s beard.
I was born on a green couch on Carriger Road between
the vineyards and the horse pasture.I don’t remember what I first saw, the brick of light
that unhinged me from the beginning. I don’t remembermy brother’s face, my mother, my father. Later, I remember leaves, through car windows,
through bedroom windows, through the classroom window,the way they shaded and patterned the ground, all that
power from roots. Imagine you must survivewithout running? I’ve come from the lacing patterns of leaves, I do not know where else I belong.
“Ancestors” from The Carrying by Ada Limón (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2019). Copyright © 2019 by Ada Limón. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org
Ada Limón is the author five books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things. which was named a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Award. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and American Poetry Reivew, among others. She lives in Kentucky.
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
Finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
From National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Ada Limón comes The Carrying—her most powerful collection yet.
Vulnerable, tender, acute, these are serious poems, brave poems, exploring with honesty the ambiguous moment between the rapture of youth and the grace of acceptance. A daughter tends to aging parents. A woman struggles with infertility—“What if, instead of carrying / a child, I am supposed to carry grief?”—and a body seized by pain and vertigo as well as ecstasy. A nation convulses: “Every song of this country / has an unsung third stanza, something brutal.” And still Limón shows us, as ever, the persistence of hunger, love, and joy, the dizzying fullness of our too-short lives. “Fine then, / I’ll take it,” she writes. “I’ll take it all.”
In Bright Dead Things, Limón showed us a heart “giant with power, heavy with blood”—“the huge beating genius machine / that thinks, no, it knows, / it’s going to come in first.” In her follow-up collection, that heart is on full display—even as The Carrying continues further and deeper into the bloodstream, following the hard-won truth of what it means to live in an imperfect world.