December 2020

December (2020)
Stuti Pachisia

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.