Cover Photo: An  image of a man walking  surrounded  by birds, books, flowers and other joys
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

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.

Jonny Teklit is a winner of the 2019 Academy of American Poets College Poetry Prize as well as the recipient of the 2019 Aliki Perroti and Seth Young Most Promising Young Poet Award. His work can be found in Lancaster Online, Mixed Mag, Dishsoap Quarterly, Alien Magazine, The Susquehanna Review, and The New Yorker.