Poem of the Week: “I Remember the Carrots,” by Ada Limón

carrotCenter for Poetry graduate fellow Alecia Beymer said this about this week’s choice: “I chose this poem for a number of reasons: I’m taken by the promise in the first line; I don’t know exactly what the poem means or even endeavors to mean and I’m grateful for that uncertainty; I have begun to repeat the line, ‘Why must we practice / this surrender?’ over and over again as if the resuscitation will yield a quenchable answer. I think I am always negotiating the space where this poem was written, ‘I haven’t given up’ and ‘I still want.’ I’ve always been enamored by Limón’s poetic move of renaming and the conjuring of the confession; she makes a swift, but gentle turn towards the end, ‘What I mean is:’ and there we have it, our ears pressed to the page, ready and waiting for someone to tell us just how and why we practice this day-to-day surrender? Never knowing what truly compelled us into the predicament in the first place. Also, I love her book Bright Dead Things and cannot recommend it enough. She also has another book out entitled, The Carrying. I am only halfway through and already on the floor.”


I Remember the Carrots

by Ada Limón

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.



“I Remember the Carrots” by Ada Limón, from Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Ada Limón.


Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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