Catapult | Poetry

Let Me Show You

oh, how my little joys have saved me

Catapult magazine · Listen to Jonny Teklit read this poem


  after Ross Gay after Gwendolyn Brooks

of mimosa trees, their beautiful bristly flowers fizzy and pink.
and think, on this earth, there are over four hundred thousand
different kinds of flowers, some with names so lovely and strange,
you cannot resist delight: zinnia, eyeball, love-in-a-mist, regal birdflower.
and just yesterday, while on a walk, I saw in the grass ahead of me
some four dozen little sparrows take off into the air all at once,
disappearing into–or perhaps becoming–the leaves of a nearby tree,
the branches shaking in the trilling wind. listen to how they sound
together, how they play the instrument of their mouths.

dolphins, too, play with one another, not for any sort of evolutionarily
determined mode of survival, but simply pleasure; which is survival
as far as I’m concerned. oh, how my little joys have saved me, pulled me
from brinks, known and not, and turned my head toward the winged
thing, the hopeful bird (or was it the birdful hope?) I am always losing track of:
the triangularly-cut sandwich, the book read in one sitting, the elephant
dust bath, the slow in-and-out of thread when fixing a patch on my favorite
jacket, the cliche sunset, the funny tweet, the lotion applied to my thigh,
the bumblebee drinking the dewdrop of Sprite hanging from the lip of the can,
the surprise album release, the letter in the mailbox with my name on it
that is not spam nor bill but a tender note from a friend several states away,
the fact that the regal birdflower is called such because of the way its petals
mimic the shape of a hummingbird drinking its own nectar so that it may
look more appealing to the other pollinators of the woods, and the one
million other dazzling occurrences and phenomena I do not have the time to list—
all of these things make of me a rainstorm in the ocean, which is to say
look at how I return to myself, look at how these things turn me
into a wheelbarrow of chirping chicks, bright and raucous with glee.

the world, at any given moment, is always revealing, from beneath
its red magician’s cloth, some latest despair, some new horror to snatch
the breath, but the trick—the prestige—is that while we weren’t looking,
the flock of small joys we saw vanish in the first act reappeared,
sure as spring, under our seats, nuzzling our ankles just so,
so softly.