Poetry The Ecstasy issue

Blowing on the Wheel

By Ada Limón

Photo by Jason McCann

It’s getting late, the light’s grayish gold
on the hillside and I’m thinking of car rides
from Brooklyn to the Cape, or up
to Moon Mountain from the City
or out to Stockbridge that one winter
with H and her sister and cousin
and how we called them the Stockbridges.
And I accidentally said, Have a Norman Mailer
Christmas and not a Norman Rockwell Christmas and we
laughed at how sad a Norman Mailer Christmas
would be. Or how, another time, we waited for T to put
our bags in the car as if she was not just driving, but
the driver. Or how after T got a ticket
on 6 East she’d go the speed limit but blow
on the steering wheel like it was a sail and say,
Is the car even on? The three of us,
always piling into the back of some cab
and deciding what was next, which was
never bed because there was still so
much to figure out. And how someone
once asked H if we ever just ran out of subjects
to keep talking about, and of course we wouldn’t
we won’t, it’s endless, even this is endless,
the sky darkening in the way that makes me
wish we were wandering right now around
New York City somewhere or at the Governor Bradford
and not wandering at all, or just talking
or not talking or being happy or not unhappy,
and this is my secret work, to be worthy
of you both and this infinite discourse
where everything is interesting because you
point it out and say, Isn’t that interesting?
And how mostly we say, Remember
that time and we will nod because we do
remember that time. Except for the few times
we’ve forgotten, like that one time when H
was trying to remind us of something
and when we asked her what, she said, I don’t know,
but you were there and I was there. And we were.


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.