Ottavia, don’t be scared.
You’ll never have less of yourself
than you have right now.
Don’t fear. Your name is only your name
until you make up its’ meaning. Like how the sun
and your spine become the same,
whenever they curve against the world
and its endless weight. Ottavia,
can you hear me? The most beautiful part
of your eyes is wherever
it forgets how to see.
Here’s the body made unholy
because you forgot to pray.
Don’t fret. Just call it heaven
and you’ll never find it.
Here’s the future. Run. I promise it isn’t
a death sentence. Here’s the person
whose mirror reflection you cannot believe
is your own. And here’s the time,
after the moon comes up, when you can still see
her chest rising and falling the way yours does.
How you breathe in and out
to find your own pair of lungs.
You asked for forgiveness
and received two hands to fill.
Don’t be scared; the noise
is just the sound of people
thinking they had fire within them
and burning out. Ottavia. Ottavia—
stand up. The most beautiful part of your eyes
is what it’s looking at. And remember,
happiness still knows who you are
even when you don’t. Here’s
the destruction without the destroying.
Your friend who said everything happens
for a reason when nothing was happening.
Here’s a pencil you cannot hold properly
and ink that bleeds onto your fingers
to cover up the actual blood. Yeah, here’s
a mind so simple and soothing,
I swear, you’ll wake up
and think every mistake
belongs to God.
Ottavia Paluch lives in Ontario, Canada. Her work is published or forthcoming in Four Way Review, Gigantic Sequins, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Best Canadian Poetry, and Ghost City Review, among other places. She’s also an alumnx of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, Flypaper Lit’s Flight School workshop, and the Iowa Young Writers Studio.
by Ottavia Paluch
Winner, International Young Writers Prize