TEEN SEQUINS 2018! DAY 1: “Moses split the red sea, but still, there was no path” by Ottavia Paluch, Age 14

In “Moses split the red sea, but still, there was no path,” we are drawn in by a murmuring voice. An old story, but Ottavia Paluch makes it new. The poem’s voice almost seems private, half-thoughts folding in on one another, occasionally surfacing to speak to us, then again, turning away. It is a voice that lives at a bus stop, quoting Old Testament passages, sometimes audibly, sometimes not. “…I was–/ no miracle. At least I tried,” says the poem, and we are drawn in, to see just why, and how. “I thought of myself / as one of those daughter plants” writes Paluch,” Quenched. Believed.” And indeed, we believe.

— Sophie Klahr

 

Moses split the red sea, but still, there was no path

 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

—Exodus 14:14

 

I’m not sure who I would’ve belonged to. There’s

the army. The ones who crossed. The

 

skeptic, because perhaps it all was—and I was—

no miracle. At least I tried. At least

 

I could drag myself through desert roads, through propagation.

But when the tide rises, I help little but the schools of fish, so that

 

they can survive. Instead, I prayed–there was a saint in my view,

and I wanted to look holy enough to be worthy of death.

 

I asked for obedience. I colonized. I thought of myself

as one of those daughter plants. Quenched. Believed. My

 

thoughts soon rested in no oasis, but rather a place where they may have

never been seen before. So that I would be no sea;

 

so that Moses might not raise his staff

above me.

 

 

Ottavia Paluch is a 14 year old HS student who attends Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. In her spare time, she tries to look intellectual by listening to Radiohead, U2, My Chemical Romance, and other lovely alternative rock bands, among other things. Her work is forthcoming or published in Alexandria Quarterly, The Daphne Review, Body Without Organs, in Navigating The Maze’s 2018 anthology, and Bitter Melon.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Ashleigh Elden (Mamaroneck HS, Mamaroneck, NY); Liliana Greyf (Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY); Esther Kim (Holton-Arms School, Bethesda, MD); Katherine Lee (Conestoga HS, Berwyn, PA); Eva Murillo (Walter Payton College Prep, Chicago, IL); Juliana Pratofiorito (Marymount School, New York City, NY); Saniah Wilson (North HS, Torrance, CA); Kaitlyn Zhou (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, IL); Vincent Gomez, Maia Tasker, Elyse Thomas, Emmanuel Ortiz-Ochoa (Miami Arts Charter School, Miami, FL)

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