When the world ends,

by Yvanna Vien Tica

may I be found sleeping in a garden
grown wild with insect wars murmuring
the many names of fireflies: lampyridae,

firefly, alitaptap. Whether I woke to their happiness
or distress, I can’t tell, and at my feet are all the homes I cracked
and mixed in a stymied omelet. Even if the world points

at this grievance, tell him you are happiest
in a land so green you no longer know the difference
between the forest you greeted as a wild child and the cultured

gardens with French names my mother
dragged me to as a suburban child. May I be found
with my hands unconscious of the weight

of the homes I’ve carried. They rarely sleep, so
aware of how broken they are. When the world
is again at your doorstep, tell him you can only love

so many, that it will only be unfair for both of you.
May I be found innocent in the eyes
of the sky, the land, and the sea, the three beings

I am told to love. If the world asks you
to translate this, tell them the sky is God,
the land is the people, and the sea is yourself,

a product of restless wandering. If the world asks
where he fits into this, tell him you are tired
of talking about his whole and dignified self.

Yes, may I be found broken, illegitimate, yet perfused
over the vast distance of the sea, the only child able
to make amends with the growing jealousy of the land.

I will tell the land not to be so angry at the sky,
and beg the sky for mercy when the land inevitably
refuses to do so out of pride. If the world stops you

before you get on your knees, angry at your desire for brief peace, just get
into your car and drive somewhere green, and the pain to remedy the distance
between the homes still begging to be built and rebuilt will lessen. Walk them

like young children into the trees, have them sit
by the stream, the fireflies. When they ask you why
they are missing bits and pieces of their body—

a mouth, an eye, a heart—tell them to listen
to the horizon, another forfeited child. May I be found
in this peace: holding them into a nest I made

from my barren arms, the worlds asleep, our breaths
exhaled and sounding less like grief and flickering fireflies
with each caress of wind. I will love them until the end. What gifts.

Yvanna Vien Tica is a Filipina writer with a hearing impairment who grew up in Manila and in a Chicagoland suburb. A high school senior, she is the 2021 Hippocrates Young Poet and the 2021 1455 Teen Poetry Contest Winner. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Verse Daily, Poet Lore, Salt Hill, and Shenandoah, among others, and has been performed virtually in a 2021 UN Climate Change Conference event. She reads for Muzzle Magazine and tweets @yvannavien. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying nature and thanking God for another day.