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Someday I'll Love Nathanael O'Reilly

After Ocean Vuong

Nathanael, don’t be afraid.

The day of your death is so far away

it has already been forgotten. 

Don’t lose sleep. Your past is only your past

until you enter your future. Like how the scar

cannot recall its creation

despite how often you caress

its ridges and borders. Nathanael,

do you understand? The best-loved

fragment of yourself resides 

in your loved ones’ memories.

Here’s the country with adolescence

sliced into a slur spat onto the blackboard.

Don’t lose sleep. Just call it ignorance

& you will feel no pain.

These days you quail. I swear

it’s temporary. Here’s the woman

whose hands are sufficient to soothe

your exile, & here the age,

just being born, when acceptance

winks beyond the horizon.

How you crave it constantly,

bursting to achieve belonging.

You sought a homecoming

& received a temporary dwelling.

Don’t be afraid. The silence

is only the absence of friends

who chose to move on and live

without you. Nathanael. Nathanael – 

arise. The best-loved fragment

of yourself resides inside. & remember,

homesickness is love

metastasized. There’s the home

you once inhabited.

The ghosts of your friends drifting

across your skin

like sediment. Here’s a blank

page with terra nullius

to invade. Yes, here’s blankness

so cold & white-skinned,

I insist, you will occupy

& populate every centimeter

with words.


Nathanael O'Reilly

Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian poet. His collections include Landmarks, Selected Poems of Ned Kelly, Dear Nostalgia, Boulevard, (Un)belonging and Preparations for Departure. His poetry appears in 125 journals & anthologies published in 15 countries. He is poetry editor for Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature. (Headshot by Celeste Jenkins-O'Reilly)


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