Cassandra Bousquet is 18 years old. She enjoys knitting, reading, spending time in nature, and participating in theatre and chorus. She has been writing all her life and hopes to be a successful author in the future. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Youth Climate Ambassador program put on by San Mateo County’s Office of Sustainability, San Mateo County Office of Education, Citizens’ Environmental Council of Burlingame and Peninsula Clean Energy. Her work is featured in the collaborative poem, “Breathe,” which appeared in Nature & Culture 2021 Festival Book (Copenhagen: Red Press Kulturhuset Islands Brygge & Københavns Kommune, 2021). She is continuing her climate activism through her Instagram @unitedagainstclimatechange
Poem on Belonging
I have red hair like my mother. My mother always told me we were magic And I think there is a part of me that is burning But it may not be my hair, it may just be the artist in me, The light that radiates from my being, the madness that so many don’t see The urge to write and write and write until my wrists don’t work The ability to fight and fight and fight until I get what I need, Whatever I can do to help the earth which is the best I can do for humanity. I can talk with my eyes and I can talk with my hands, I’ve been thinking about artists and the ones who don’t understand I’ve been thinking about Van Gogh and Millay and Tchaikovsky About the beauty of their minds and the tortured colors of their lives In my room, hangs a poster of Vincent, and through him, I think I see I come from lupine and buckeye, cherry-plum and blackberry Nasturtium, jasmine, poison oak and rosemary I come from a broken white bench And a dusty, wild mountain I come from good friends And an overflowing water fountain I have always been me, and I’ve always known it truly How to have a tea party, and pet flowers and find the joy Sometimes the truth is hidden, sometimes the veil of dusk hangs too thick Sometimes the clouds fold into each other and I find myself enmeshed in grey And so I turn to paper and pen until the sun shines again Until the springtime sings sweetly its farewell to cold decay I have always been writing; it is like breathing, so I must I have always been humming, skipping this way and that I’ve been wondering lately, about what a human means About being, and singing, and regrowing wings I have stardust in my veins or in my blood, just somewhere in there I learned that long ago and have never forgotten that fact When I think of who I am, I say my name; it seems to describe me well enough But I feel something lacking, some scent my soul is slowly sipping Some melody of delicate strength that is not ready to be heard yet When I love, I am everything When I fear, I am nothing When I am angry, I am boiling When I am sorry, I am melting I am passion and pain and gold-dusted feathers You must see me to sense me You must read me to hear me You must feel me to know the real me I am wild and wonderful and very unwise I have a tangible soul I can pull out through my eyes I am the sun and the rain and every kind of weather I am everything to love and everything to despise I hug the trees and lie in the dirt I say, “This is where I came from” and thank the earth for giving me life I worry I am not worthy of it And then remember that the leaves don’t care The moss doesn’t even wonder why it is there It simply exists with the life-force of love I simply exist as another thread of the tapestry And I weave golden and tightly and connect with the others who don’t know I try to spread light and become part of the flow Even if I don’t always know where to go I have red hair like my mother. My mother always told me we were magic. I stand tall on the mountain top and gleam in the sun. I know who I am and I know where I come from. I know I am an artist, lupine and buckeye, stardust in my veins.
Copyright © 2022 by Cassandra Bousquet. Used with permission of the author.