Ada Limon



After Her Husband Left Her, She Went to Work at the Hardware Store

When no one was in,
the store felt emptier than most
places a person could go.

A big key hung above the door
and cast a shadow like a crocodile
across the sunlit floor.

On the key was printed
It was missing the S. She missed the S.

On a note pad by the register
She drew tiny squares absentmindedly,
while humming “Bargain Store”

by Dolly Parton. So many squares,
they began to look like small doors
through which one might slip.





On the Plane, For Once, He Misses Something


He was thinking of the exit row people,
and how they seemed arrogant to him,

thinking they could save him, save a whole
plane just because they opened a door.

His first girlfriend wanted to be a pilot,
her bra was like two china tea cups.

He wondered where she was, and where
her bra was too. He missed it, little bra.

He never thought he could live up to it, to her,
constantly saying, “I’m no good for you,”

until she said, “That just means you don’t
love me enough,” and left him outside the ballpark.

For a minute before the captain spoke,
he prayed she was flying the plane,

her perfect breasts carrying this full flight,
steering all these people, and him, in the right direction.





Our Hero Watches the Lady at the Hardware Store Again and She Notices


Like he’s watching a black and white movie he remembers from his childhood but has no idea how it ends; that’s it. That’s how he looks at her. It might be a porno, but she’s not sure. She catches him staring at her mouth, the freckle above her lip like an invitation he wishes to RSVP to. Would you like to attend the party? She wants to ask. Not since Julian Strompello in the first grade has someone looked at her like this and all she can do is sell him nails and screws of different threads from over the counter. She wants to know what he is building. She wants to be a wall in his house where he hammers the nails. She could just stand there while he pounds them into her until slowly and over time she becomes a wall of unbreakable steel.