Poem: The First Lesson

In one of three poems published in Alta’s Spring 2021 issue, Ada Limón learns to watch closely.

ada limón
Ada Limón

She took the hawk wing
and spread it

slightly from the shoulder
down, from the bend

of the wing to the lesser
coverts, from the primary coverts

to the tertials, to the carpal edge.
The bird was dead

to begin with, found
splayed over the white

line of Arnold Drive. She was not
scared of death, she took

the bird in like a stray
thing that needed warmth

and water. She pulled it apart
to see how it worked.

She nailed the wing
to her studio wall.

She told me not to be
scared. I watched

and learned to watch
closely the world.

Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry, including The Carrying, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award.
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