Cesca Ledesma

Applause Issue 32 Label

Palaanga Ta Ka

Danjugan Island, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Clothed in blue and green, it shows
you nothing… and this is how
Google Earth fails me,
just when I thought technology
could do anything. All I see is blur
and pixel, sea and vegetation. Where
is the North Lagoon? Sapphire waters
sucking clamor
through a straw, notes from a stork-billed
kingfisher, and the ripples
from the strokes of a kayak paddle? And
I can’t see flaxen fireflies gripping the emerald
Botong tree,
stars and phosphorescence guiding my feet,
the beach lighting up in three
I don’t see where the jade mangroves begin,
where I fell in love for the first time, in
between their tangled legs surging with tree-blood,
when a green sea turtle’s hand held mine in a flood
of aquamarine water.
And I was so in love with her,
and that little world, and whoever made
valentine’s day was wrong: cards should be shades
of blue and green, not red. And if you
open the paper hearts, you
will see the buds growing after the typhoon
that took the Sea Eagle’s nest, where I once looked
at four origami wings, a sort of heart,
and thought that is what I want.
And I’m sure rough winds scattered sea
glass and toppled timber, but green
plants will grow from woody remains.
And I’ll be back to ask the sprouts their names.
My heart learning to now
fall for somewhere new.

I just want to say thank you

Björklunden Student Retreat Lodge,
Door County, Wisconsin

Silence collected in buckets under the cabin’s
dripping roof. 13 people all 10 feet away,
standing alone, hugging

coats to themselves. But a dam fell yesterday,
and a river moved steadily
up knees & out mouths with things to say.

Yes, the river was them. Us, maybe
to make myself a part of it all. & because the polar
Lake’s winds serenaded us in an off-key

melody, we entered her music, tripping over
frostbitten hills & the icy winter arranged on
her rocky land. Voices condensed to clouds in her

arctic caves, spread out like an
ice-capped dream. Gloves grabbed gloves
to pull friends (yes, friends)

along glacial tunnels & toss frisbees above
heads. Time tugged legs, took wrists,
hauled us to the edge of

the frozen-over shore. Where the Lake split
her ice sheets & our hands
seized her water, holding it

solidified between twenty-six palms. &
I thought I was in love with spring, but I
find myself scared for winter to end

or maybe this feeling going away, I
forget if there is warmth after the frost that now
surrounds me. But back in the cabin I sigh

thank you, to no one in particular, not even sure what for.
Maybe our bodies, huddled where even snow can’t come in.
Leaving space for a fire, no wind to snuff it out.

Cesca Ledesma is a world-renowned shark enthusiast. Enjoys her water salted and filled with wild sharks. Best known for her quotes “that is a shark!” and “look at those sharks!”. Occasionally a poet and frequently ingests caffeine and gets thwacked on the head with a frisbee. Upstanding human. Wishes she were a shark. Probably dating a vampire. Fact-checked on September 15th, 1981. 

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