Poetry The Ecstasy issue

Against Nostalgia

By Ada Limón

Photo by Tom Dick

If I had known you were coming, back then,
when I first thought love could be the thing
to save me after all—if I had known, would I
have still glued myself to the back of his motorcycle
while we flew across the starless bridge
over the East River to where I grew
my first garden behind the wire fencing,
in the concrete raised beds lined by ruby
twilight roses? If I had known it would be you,
who even then I liked to look at, across a room,
always listening rigorously, a self-questioning look,
the way your mouth was always your mouth,
would I have climbed back on that bike again
and again until even I was sick with fumes
and the sticky seat too hot in the early fall?
If I had known, would I have still made mistake
after mistake until I had only the trunk of me left,
stripped and nearly bare of leaves myself?
If I had known, the truth is, I would have kneeled
and said, Sooner, come to me sooner.


Ada Limón is the author of six books of poetry, including The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where she writes, teaches remotely, and hosts the critically acclaimed poetry podcast The Slowdown. Her new book of poetry, The Hurting Kind, is forthcoming from Milkweed in May 2022.