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Poem 367 ± June 5, 2016

Ada Limón
AIDS

It was my nickname
in elementary school.
Short for Ada and said
so cherishingly. Cool
for a nickname, swift
and easily shouted.
Until the ominous
bloom spread even
to the eight-year-olds
under the white oaks
who didn’t know much,
except not to call me
that word anymore. Most
went back to saying
Ada. Others went longer,
Adidas. We knew a word
for shame now, for fear,
so we buried it without
speaking. This, I’m afraid,
was our first cutting out
of the tongue, our first
lesson in silence.

Ada LimonAda Limón is the author of Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry and the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award as well as being cited as one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books include Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006), This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006), and Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010). Ada serves on the faculty of the Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency MFA program and the 24Pearl Street online program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California.

This poem is not previously published.