“Mowing” by Ada Limón

The man across the street is mowing 40 acres on a small lawn mower.
It’s so small, it must take him days, so I imagine that he likes it. He
must. He goes around each tree carefully. He has 10,000 trees; it’s
a tree farm, so there are so many trees. One circle here. One circle
there. My dog and I’ve been watching. The light’s escaping the sky,
and there’s this place I like to stand, it’s before the rise, so I’m invis-
ible. I’m standing there, and I’ve got the dog, and the man is mow-
ing in his circles. So many circles. There are no birds or anything, or
none that I can see. I imagine what it must be like to stay hidden,
disappear in the dusky nothing and stay still in the night. It’s not
sadness, though it may sound like it. I’m thinking about people
and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than
anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine,
and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let
the savage grass grow.

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

Visit Poets & Writers to listen to (and to read) this and three more pieces by Limón.

5 thoughts on ““Mowing” by Ada Limón

  1. Jim Brennan

    One of life’s great mysteries: I begin each day with Writer’s Almanac, and then during the day read another poem here at Words for the Year, and I wonder: how is it you don’t have thousands of followers?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re too kind, Jim, thank you.
      The Writer’s Almanac has quite a few years on me. 🙂 Mr. Keillor began it in 1993. (I know because many pieces here come from their deep archives.)
      I began in 2014 (and maybe have one more year in me here) and do zero advertising. Everything is word of mouth or social media sharing or the right people stumbling upon the right poem at the right time. It’s fascinating to me how much the site has grown given only those parameters.
      I like to think the intimate smaller setting allows us to fly just under the radar of the major publishers and legal staffs, too. I don’t always have time to seek permission in advance, though I strive to always source and link to books, so I think our zero-revenue and small size affords us extra leniency.
      All this to say…I’m beyond grateful for what we have here; it’s perfect. 🙂
      Thank you so much for your sweet note. -c

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian Dean Powers

    I’m curious: did the author present this as a poem (with line breaks) or a prose poem (no line breaks)? Prose poems seem really difficult to write (for me anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know what Brian? Your curiosity was onto something. She has presented this poem both ways.
      I copied the text and formatting from Poets & Writers. I link to it above. It was published in August 2015, and the poet links to the site on her own website and even did audio for it. However in her book, Bright Dead Things, published in September 2015, this poem is presented as a prose poem with no line breaks at all.

      Given its prose format in the book, I’m sure that is her preferred format. However, she signed off on the pw site, so I would hope she’s okay with the line breaks.

      I’ll add a footnote to the posting later from the laptop. Thanks for catching this! Great intuition, Brian!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brian Dean Powers

        I’ve been trying my hand at prose poems and have been finding it difficult. Maybe because there’s no real definition of what a prose poem might be. That’s why I wondered.

        Liked by 1 person

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