before I know it, the season is mourning.
I am young enough to be crying
furiously, quietly, for a residual
sadness that only hit a full year
after it happened. I am young
enough to feel, still, a numbing grief
fill my ends, whitened spots where
blood should be.
Younger, I read about people as
rings of a tree, each year circling
the other; people as matryoshka dolls;
at their cores: very small; at the essence:
susceptible to easy joys, easy
loss. This year people get
Outside, I see ghosts everywhere.
Our grief needs to materialize in
vacant gaps where red leaves were,
split streets where laughter was, blank
skies where gold light was. We are haunted.
Our afters are shaped like better pasts.
Right now, neither exists.
On the coldest day this year, Laura returns.
In the freezing rain, we walk past a garden
which I say, is my favorite: it blooms, luscious
in autumn but which, for now—December—is bare-bones.
She points that this is a graveyard. In autumn, behind
spiraling flowers that shapeshift by time of day,
I never notice the headstones.
In December, they rise like jagged thorns, splitting
open the hard earth.
Younger, every child I knew claimed that
beneath their school lay a graveyard.
We revealed this as a quiet secret only
The Children could know. We knew what
The Adults would never tell us: all of
human growth has been the act of
building atop interred bones. Our bases
are made of grief. Later, Laura says goodbye.
We hold hands, desperate at the thought of
slipping, the renewed letting go. She smiles
and reminds me, “We’re still alive, you know?”
She runs to the train, a pink flush in icy cold.
When I turn, December breaks. The gaps in
the earth fill with white snow.
Stuti Pachisia is a doctoral candidate & poet based in Cambridge, UK and Calcutta, India. Reach out to her on Twitter: @steewtweets.