This is the End And

By Erika Rasmussen


I was four, a world-traveler
and already stuck,
noodle-elbow caught
between a silvery-snake bus railing
and the two-story
that is, double-decker, Fate,
stuck in a stairwell,
one too many
steps behind the hand
I was meant to be holding
my toddler-brain positive that
Mom! Dad! Wait! I’m going to be an orphan forever and this is it and—

I was under ten,
I got that this is the end
feeling in my gut, the one
where you’re pretty sure.
There is sand gouging out my nose,
little sand-men with shovels
poised with crystalline form to
annihilate everything God
has worked for.
Knees befriending chin it is a
waltz with the sea,
it must be beautiful but all I see is
blackness, not a hint of foam.
I am caught beneath a wave
this brave, thin body
for once could not withstand.
This is the end and then I am breathing.

I was sixteen, maybe,
I was a set of wracking lungs,
not at the mercy of little sand-men but of
the crosswalk, the breathlessness
of sitting behind the steering wheel in
no man’s land, red-light laughing
you could have died!
Careless, silly little girl.
Don’t you know you’re alive?

I am twenty,
I am oceans from the noodle-elbowed Fate,
I am miles from the waves,
I am nowhere near.
I am looking upon my future
in the classroom while I
should be taking notes
and oh,
there it is.

I’m not going to make it.

What is one to do when
the uncertainty of life shakes
one more
than the ever-blooming
certainty of death?