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As A Fire Blazes in The Notre-Dame Cathedral


“You are not a god. You are not that enlarged self. Indeed, you are not even a whole self, as you now see.”

            — Anne Carson




What I want is nothing left in the world

            to love. To slit open the pregnant belly

of a starfish. To prune in the bath of the past

            tense. To hold biology’s breath.

To play God. To say all hurt is necessary hurt.

            To believe what I say. To worship it.

What more could a girl dream of? A mouth

            to call mine. A mouth angled to swallow

a serpent. The garden in its maw. Look at me.

            Don’t stop. What could be lovelier

than heaven herself. Whose heart do I terrify

            most? So what you’re telling me is that

 God gives you reasons to hate yourself. Not you.

            So the lighthouse floating above the

night market has not once sent its searchlights

            after you. I waited. I know. Better than

any patron prisoner. I was born throatless

            in a myth with no father. Who authored

this tragedy but me. Could you take that kind

            of Technicolor heat? The sea rising to a fault.

A body that hoards prayer like a house

            of heirlooms. A body where you die

in every iteration of sick, wake only to count fewer

            and fewer bones. To live and tell the tale

when the world’s already in love with shinier things—

            You and I both know it’s what I do best.

OTTAVIA PALUCH is a disabled high school student who lives in Ontario, Canada. A Gigantic Sequins Teen Sequin in 2018, her work is published or forthcoming in Four Way Review, Kissing Dynamite, Room Magazine, Alexandria Quarterly, and Ghost City Review, among other places. Paluch has studied poetry under Jessica Lynn Suchon during the 2019 Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, as well as under Matt Mitchell during Flypaper Lit’s 2020 workshop on poetic forms.

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