my first ritual born out of
obsessive compulsive disorder
was at five years old
in a blue tin trailer on raleigh hill.

i was a nightgowned shiver on the carpet,
kneeling before the open vent,
paper in hand.

i had a pretty good idea of what happened
when people went to the cold place
beneath the earth,

that at any moment, i could become
orphan. the sky could blink,
and my family would be caught
behind its bright eyelid.

the only way to stop this
was to grovel before the vent
and shred the paper into scraps,
which i’d drop through the slats
and whisper a loved one’s name
as it vanished into the shadows
beneath my home.

all of this as if to plead,
this is all i have.
i am five years scared
and i am doing my best
to save the whole world.

and is that not exactly
what i’m doing
even now?

have i not changed at all,
playing paper heroine
with everything i love,
on the floor
in a nightgown,
folding words into wishes

and dropping them
into the dark?

By Harper Russet


Harper Russet (she/her or they/them pronouns, interchangeable) is a 24-year-old butch lesbian poet and novelist from Utah. Every poem she writes is an argument with gender, the country, and so many gods. Videos of her work can be found on Write About Now.

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