Header PostFeaturedImage 08

The Leash by Ada Limón


There will be an end, I once wrote to myself, on a postcard one afternoon with the sun on my nape, my feet up on a chair. But not just yet, I eventually added. I was in another country and the city has been incredibly kind to me, and I was teaching myself about my limits and my fears.

Not just yet—perhaps my mantra for the past year as I pass through the days. You are here, I say. Pay attention, I say. How does one not become the very selfsame ghost that haunts one’s life?

I am here. Not yet shattered. Not yet dead. Beginning again. I am not entirely ready but my heart is open. Perhaps today that is enough.

The Leash
Ada Limón

After the birthing of bombs of forks and fear,
the frantic automatic weapons unleashed,
the spray of bullets into a crowd holding hands,
that brute sky opening in a slate metal maw
that swallows only the unsayable in each of us, what’s
left? Even the hidden nowhere river is poisoned
orange and acidic by a coal mine. How can
you not fear humanity, want to lick the creek
bottom dry to suck the deadly water up into
your own lungs, like venom? Reader, I want to
say, Don’t die. Even when silvery fish after fish
comes back belly up, and the country plummets
into a crepitating crater of hatred, isn’t there still
something singing? The truth is: I don’t know.
But sometimes, I swear I hear it, the wound closing
like a rusted-over garage door, and I can still move
my living limbs into the world without too much
pain, can still marvel at how the dog runs straight
toward the pickup trucks break-necking down
the road, because she thinks she loves them,
because she’s sure, without a doubt, that the loud
roaring things will love her back, her soft small self
alive with desire to share her goddamn enthusiasm,
until I yank the leash back to save her because
I want her to survive forever. Don’t die, I say,
and we decide to walk for a bit longer, starlings
high and fevered above us, winter coming to lay
her cold corpse down upon this little plot of earth.
Perhaps, we are always hurtling our body towards
the thing that will obliterate us, begging for love
from the speeding passage of time, and so maybe
like the dog obedient at my heels, we can walk together
peacefully, at least until the next truck comes.

[expand title=”Endnotes” tag=”h6″ expanded=”true”]

This poem appeared in The Carrying by Ada Limón, published by Milkweed Editions, 2018. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Ada LimónFind books by this poet • Or view my library

Explore poems in pursuit of: existencesurvivingthe world • Or browse the index


[expand title=”Dear Reader” tag=”h6″]

This little corner of the world is my passion project since 2005. My commitment is that it will always remain free to all. If this place holds meaning for you, would you consider supporting it? This can be in the form of a cup of coffee (+ other ways).

Note that Read A Little Poetry may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through any links on this site. It is at no additional cost to you and helps in the upkeep of this space.

Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light.


Comments (13)

  • Yesterday I opened a draft I saved years ago, a poem by Ada Limon! and now I see this!! Thank you for posting .. I wish you posted more often. Wishing your soul a good year.

  • So nice to “see” you back at the blog. Your writing & poem pairings are a balm. Thank you.

  • welcome back! happy new year! thanks for this poem

  • Cesa

    I come to your blog every now and then since 2012. this is my quiet nook and my heart sits understood and happy. thank you for being here.

  • I come in and out of your blog, always thankful that I feel welcome every time. Thank you for your words.

  • your blog has always been a solace to me. I always come back here to get lost in this little world you created when i find myself trapped in mine. Thank you for everything. I wish you find whatever it is you are looking for. Sending you lots of love.

  • dknuttunen

    Thank you. Expresses a thing so many of us feel, in these days of history.

  • I just “discovered” your blog and it warmed my heart, Thank you for writing, this is beautiful.

  • Tanabe

    Thank you for your beautiful words. Pla dont stop writing

  • Thank you for this

  • tired

    thank you , im grateful to have read your words, sending good energies your way

  • Vatsala

    read this poem for the first time and i feel blessed to have come across it. resonated with the marginalia too, as always. thank you for sharing. <3

  • Heidi-Marie

    Lovely poem 💖


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.