Sharks in the Rivers
We'll say unbelievable things to each other in the early morning— our blue coming up from our roots, our water rising in our extraordinary limbs. All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles and ghosts of men, and spirits behind those birds of flame. I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes, I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through. It is a short walkway— into another bedroom. Consider the handle. Consider the key. I say to a friend, how scared I am of sharks. How I thought I saw them in the creek across from my street. I once watched for them, holding a bundle of rattlesnake grass in my hand, shaking like a weak-leaf girl. She sends me an article from a recent National Geographic that says, Sharks bite fewer people each year than New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records. Then she sends me on my way. Into the City of Sharks. Through another doorway, I walk to the East River saying, Sharks are people too. Sharks are people too. Sharks are people too. I write all the things I need on the bottom of my tennis shoes. I say, Let's walk together. The sun behind me is like a fire. Tiny flames in the river's ripples. I say something to God, but he's not a living thing, so I say it to the river, I say, I want to walk through this doorway But without all those ghosts on the edge, I want them to stay here. I want them to go on without me. I want them to burn in the water.
In 2022, Ada Limón was appointed the United States poet laureate. Born on March 28, 1976, she is originally from Sonoma, California. As a child, she was greatly influenced by the visual arts and artists, including her mother, Stacia Brady. In 2001, Limón received an MFA from the creative writing program at New York University.
Limón’s first collection of poetry, Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006), was the winner of the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize. She is also the author of The Hurting Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2022); The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018); Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010); and This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006), winner of the 2005 Pearl Poetry Prize. Of Limón’s work, the poet Richard Blanco writes, “Both soft and tender, enormous and resounding, her poetic gestures entrance and transfix.”