I Remember the Carrots by Ada Limón
MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM
Sunday morning barefoot with the sun barely grazing the window. Listening to Billie Holiday croon, I’m a fool to want you…
It almost feels real, this living. It almost makes me believe I am living the life I wanted—a good life—or at least I am trying my darnedest. But I know an hour from now I am back to the punishing nature of the grind, disintegrating the hours working and working and working instead of being wrapped up in a book, on the couch under a yellow blanket, with Lady Day in the background.
But isn’t that what life is too, though. The grind. Because it means I am not giving up, it means I am trying to live, still.
I used to ask, what have I lost to be here. I am thinking, maybe the question really is: what have I killed to be here.
I Remember the Carrots
I haven’t given up on trying to live a good life,
a really good one even, sitting in the kitchen
in Kentucky, imagining how agreeable I’ll be –
the advance of fulfillment, and of desire –
all these needs met, then unmet again.
When I was a kid, I was excited about carrots,
their spidery neon tops in the garden’s plot.
And so I ripped them all out. I broke the new roots
and carried them, like a prize, to my father
who scolded me, rightly, for killing his whole crop.
I loved them: my own bright dead things.
I’m thirty-five and remember all that I’ve done wrong.
Yesterday I was nice, but in truth I resented
the contentment of the field. Why must we practice
this surrender? What I mean is: there are days
I still want to kill the carrots because I can.
[expand title=”Endnotes” tag=”h6″ expanded=”true”]
This poem appeared in Bright Dead Things: Poems by Ada Limón, published by Milkweed Editions, 2015. Shared here with profound gratitude.
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