When I was a little kid I loved the book The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, to the extent that I memorized my favorite lines: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. Then I grew up and had children, and then my children grew up, and sometimes it feels so befuddling, like wait, stop, come back, how did this all happen so fast?
This is when I instinctively and silently recite one of my mantras – They’re people in the world before they’re your children, Alison – a line that came to me years ago and which I never fully understood until three days ago, when I read this poem by the wondrous Ada Limón.
What I Didn’t Know Before, by Ada Limón
was how horses simply give birth to other
horses. Not a baby by any means, not
a creature of liminal spaces, but a four-legged
beast hellbent on walking, scrambling after
the mother. A horse gives way to another
horse and then suddenly there are two horses,
just like that. That’s how I loved you. You,
off the long train from Red Bank carrying
a coffee as big as your arm, a bag with two
computers swinging in it unwieldily at your
side. I remember we broke into laughter
when we saw each other. What was between
us wasn’t a fragile thing to be coddled, cooed
over. It came out fully formed, ready to run.
For more information about Ada Limón, whose poems are beloved to me, please visit her website.