“Cataclysm” by Jasmine Ledesma

Jasmine Ledesma


My youngest brother takes the garbage out with both hands. 
His face is full of acne ripe enough to pluck. 
He could burst at any moment. I miss him all the time but especially 
when he is right in front of me. 
We haven’t left the house in four days. 
This virus is dancing, my dad says over the phone. 
I count the syllables until he hangs up. Then, I sit in the 
frilly backyard with the other dogs and stare at the 
sky’s timid girl face, the same one I used to wear. 
Years ago, a man’s hand was like light against my face 
which I thought made me the deer. 
When I turned nineteen, I figured out I had eleven months to die. 
But I keep coming back. A red ant avoids crawling onto my hand. 
The wind whistles. When my sister was my age, she slurped 
iced coffee and never insisted on being heard. 
Last month, I got paid two hundred dollars to write about her death. 
The neon alphabet that lives in my mouth never lets me down. 
A fallen tree knows it has fallen even if nobody else does. 
It is a vision of self-respect. I watch a distant plane fly across 
the horizon like a pair of scissors. My hair lifts behind me like a flag. 
I live in so many different places and each one hurts. 

from Rattle #74, Winter 2021


Jasmine Ledesma: “I wrote this poem at the height of the pandemic last spring while sleeping on the floor in my mother’s house. Everything was bad news all of the time. As a result, I wanted to celebrate and inspect resilience as an all-powerful force. It is hard to be alive. Impossible, sometimes. But it is also when we decide to push forward in our depths that we are living most earnestly and most poetically. This poem is a relic of that realization.” (web)

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