What Rough Beast | Poem for January 21, 2017

Ada Limón
Killing Methods

Outside, after grieving for days,
I’m thinking of how we make stories,
pluck them like beetles out of the air,

collect them, pin their glossy backs
to the board like the rows of stolen
beauties, dead, displayed at Isla Negra,

where the waves broke over us
and I still loved the country, wanted
to suck the bones of the buried.

Now, I’m outside a normal house
while friends cook and please
and pour secrets into each other.

A crow pierces the sky, ominous,
clanging like an alarm, but there
is no ocean here, just tap water

rising in the sink, a sadness clean
of history only because it’s new,
a few weeks old, our national wound.

I don’t know how to hold this truth,
so I kill it, pin its terrible wings down
in case, later, no one believes me.


Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books include Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A 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.

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