We were sure we wouldn’t live to thirty, to hell
with whether we wanted to or not. Rosalind hung
herself a week after her brother wove
his own noose. Two Catholic funerals
in two weeks was more suffocating
than the sick collecting
above their kicked-out chairs. We all
would have been twenty-eight,
but Sheri left a decade before, spine snapped
underneath a four-wheeler in a plowed
down field. She should have been in seventh
period with us, but you know how kids are.
The day I turned thirty, I jumped from a groaning bridge
in the jungles of Central America. Village children
clung to the edge with bugged eyes,
flurries of Spanish showered their lips. Somewhere
between feeling nothing
beneath my feet and mouthfuls of regrets,
I knew the cord would snap.
And when it didn’t,
I was swarmed with the stinging knowing
that I had been forgotten even by death
and probably for decades.
Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, born and raised in Oregon and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is the author of 13 books including eight collections of poetry, four novels, and one non-fiction book. She’s received several writer-in-residency posts around the world, including the Hosking Houses Trust with an appointment at The Shakespeare Birthplace (Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK), Paris Lit Up (Paris, France), the Women’s International Study Center (WISC) Acequia Madre House post (Santa Fe, NM), the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE), and a Writer in the Schools (WITS) residency at Literary Arts (Portland, OR).