How to Disappear Completely

“I face my failure in the way I escaped it”

—La Dispute

I’m looking at the light and burning my goddamn corneas.

I just bought myself a microscope & spotted the difference

between yesterday & today. When I was in photos &

when I wasn’t. The quotient is always a ghost. In math, I am less than;

Pac-Man always eats the bigger number. I have become

one of those coloured blobs of ghost. Escaped hungry.

While Pac-Man ate coins, I searched the walls for light. I’m still learning

how to see, how to make this prototype of myself work. Then

Pac-Man began morphing into uglier versions of myself,

when I thought I had put myself down as far as possible. Even when

I don’t have to see, I still find myself lost, searching for the darkness.

Like when I’m listening to Radiohead. During one

of their songs I caught myself singing: Show me the world as I’d love to see it.

Whenever I hear songs I liked when I was younger, I think of that

version of me & consider when I could’ve given her a hand

to hold—she’d trip while climbing stairs. I still fall. I still fail. I have been trying

to draw myself without making the outline of my face a dotted line.

I am, in this way, an almost-ray of light. My shadows up

against the wall, covering up what I want to remember.

The italicized lyric is taken from the song “Subterranean Homesick Alien” by Radiohead.

Ottavia Paluch is a disabled high school student from Ontario, Canada. Her work is published or forthcoming in Four Way Review, Gigantic Sequins’ Teen Sequins, Best Canadian Poetry, and Ghost City Review, among other places. She’s also an alumna of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program and the Flypaper Lit Flight School workshop on poetic forms.