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About this Poem 

“Oh to go back to the days ‘before we knew better.’ In this poem I wanted to capture that thrill of absolute freedom before the great leveling fear of death pierced the mind. I miss that motorcycle.”
Ada Limón

Before

No shoes and a glossy
red helmet, I rode
on the back of my dad’s
Harley at seven years old.
Before the divorce.
Before the new apartment.
Before the new marriage.
Before the apple tree.
Before the ceramics in the garbage.
Before the dog’s chain.
Before the koi were all eaten
by the crane. Before the road
between us, there was the road
beneath us, and I was just
big enough not to let go:
Henno Road, creek just below,
rough wind, chicken legs,
and I never knew survival
was like that. If you live,
you look back and beg
for it again, the hazardous
bliss before you know
what you would miss.

Copyright © 2015 by Ada Limón. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Ada Limón. Used with permission of the author.

Ada Limón

Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018) and Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

by this poet

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
poem

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white

2
poem
Yoked to what? To whom?
Calibration. Checkmate.

Thunderous blowhard,
tiny tea kettle. Boom.

Bastion at the market,
flashlight mimicry.

Look at my phrase
making, batting eyes.

Whose hand do you hold?
Whose hand do you want?

Enough of this, ruiner.
What’s the gift of talk,

talk, talk. Where’re your
minions,
2