Friday, December 2, 2022

Cargo by Ada Limón


I wish I could write to you from underwater, 
                the warm bath covering my ears—
one of which has three marks in the exact
shape of a triangle, my own atmosphere’s asterism.

Last night, the fire-engine sirens were so loud
they drowned out even the constant bluster
                of the inbound freight trains. Did I tell you,
the R. J. Corman Railroad runs five hundred feet from us?

Before everything shifted and I aged into this body,
       my grandparents lived above San Timoteo Canyon,
where the Southern Pacific Railroad roared each scorching
California summer day. I’d watch for the trains,
howling as they came.

Manuel is in Chicago today, and we’ve both admitted
     that we’re travelling with our passports now.
Reports of ICE raids and both of our bloods
are requiring new medication.

I wish we could go back to the windy dock,
drinking pink wine and talking smack.
Now it’s gray and pitchfork.

The supermarket here is full of grass seed, like spring
might actually come, but I don’t know. And you?
I heard from a friend that you’re still working on saving
      words. All I’ve been working on is napping, and maybe
being kinder to others, to myself.

Just this morning, I saw seven cardinals brash and bold
                as sin in a leafless tree. I let them be for a long while before
I shook the air and screwed it all up just by being alive, too.

Am I braver than those birds?

Do you ever wonder what the trains carry? Aluminum ingots,
                plastic, brick, corn syrup, limestone, fury, alcohol, joy.

All the world is moving, even sand from one shore to another
is being shuttled. I live my life half afraid, and half shouting
at the trains when they thunder by. This letter to you is both.

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