Oberon’s Court of Distress: A Poem on OCD—Olivia Elle

The fairy walks,
humming a simple tune.
The sun shines through the leaves
to trace patterns along roots,
glittering on stems of grass.

And yet, the fairy halts
every now and then
to glance into the shadows
lurking by the side.
There are monsters there, she knows—

she’s encountered them before.
Tall, with gleaming eyes
and broad teeth, and large hands
to sprinkle salt
over the fairy path—

salt that is pure, salt that is clean,
that the fairy must count every grain
or never take
another step.

The monsters are clumsy, breaking
every branch in their way and
crunching leaves underfoot,
but they outpace her every time. Down

come the hands, sprinkling their grains of salt,
and the fairy stops. One, two, three,
she counts, and the monster laughs
till that is the only sound echoing,

echoing in the fairy’s head.
One, two, three, she counts again,
and the monster’s footsteps
sound like thunder as they wander away.

But the salt remains, and the silence
echoes more than their laughter did.
One, two, three, the fairy counts,
more forceful than before.
Four, five, six

a branch cracks
farther down the path, and the fairy
looks up, then back down—
and she’s lost track again.

One, two, three, she counts.
Till there are no more grains
left to count.

Olivia Elle graduated from Emerson College in 2020, and from Johns Hopkins University’s Master’s program in 2022. A writer of both fiction and poetry, her work has been published in Generic, ArLiJoDodging the RainTupelo Quarterly, and Crow & Cross Keys. Her poem “The Gay Experience: F for Faith, F for—” was a semi-finalist for the 2021 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award. Olivia herself can be found on most social media sites @OliviaElle98.

photo by Castorly Stock (via pexels)