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About this poet

Born March 28, 1976, Ada Limón is originially from Sonoma, California. As a child, she was greatly influenced by the visual arts and artists, including her mother, Stacia Brady. In 2001, she received an M.F.A. from the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Her first collection of poetry, Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006), was the winner of the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize. She is also the author of This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006), winner of the 2005 Pearl Poetry Prize, and Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, the Harvard Review, and Pleiades.

A 2001-2002 fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, she has also received a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry.

She splits her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California.

Sharks in the Rivers

Ada Limón, 1976
We'll say unbelievable things 
to each other in the early morning— 
  
our blue coming up from our roots, 
our water rising in our extraordinary limbs. 
  
All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles 
and ghosts of men, and spirits 
behind those birds of flame. 
  
I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes, 
I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through. 
  
It is a short walkway— 
into another bedroom. 
  
Consider the handle. Consider the key. 
  
I say to a friend, how scared I am of sharks. 
  
How I thought I saw them in the creek 
across from my street. 
  
I once watched for them, holding a bundle 
of rattlesnake grass in my hand, 
shaking like a weak-leaf girl. 
  
She sends me an article from a recent National Geographic that says, 
  
Sharks bite fewer people each year than 
New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records. 
  
Then she sends me on my way. Into the City of Sharks. 
  
Through another doorway, I walk to the East River saying, 
  
Sharks are people too. 
Sharks are people too. 
Sharks are people too. 
  
I write all the things I need on the bottom 
of my tennis shoes. I say, Let's walk together. 
  
The sun behind me is like a fire. 
Tiny flames in the river's ripples. 
  
I say something to God, but he's not a living thing, 
so I say it to the river, I say, 
  
I want to walk through this doorway 
But without all those ghosts on the edge, 
I want them to stay here. 
I want them to go on without me. 
  
I want them to burn in the water.

From Sharks in the Rivers by Ada Limón. Copyright © 2010 by Ada Limón. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions. All rights reserved.

Ada Limón

Ada Limón

Born in 1976, Ada Limón received the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize for her debut collection, Lucky Wreck

by this poet

poem

Say tomorrow doesn't come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun's a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl's eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon's a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt's plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen's a cow's corpse.

poem
It's a day when all the dogs of all
the borrowed houses are angel footing
down the hard hardwood of middle-America's
newly loaned-up renovated kitchen floors,
and the world's nicest pie I know
is somewhere waiting for the right
time to offer itself to the wayward
and the word-weary. How come the road
goes coast