grief by Mira Baum

 Illustration by Dora O’Niell

Illustration by Dora O’Niell

I. i feel like I’m shrinking
which used to mean you were growing
but not this time

mornings—
forget you aren’t here
drip of coffee
bitter, crossword
unfinished without your help

nights—setting the table for four
crying, correcting
we leave your seat empty

wake up at 4 am thinking I hear your breathing
just wind
are these echoes your cough
or just the house creaking with
age & memories & time

this house and the wind and the memories
and you’re somehow still here
and I can’t help but feel that we’re grasping
at signs
in wavelengths, in the birds and the seashells and the dreams

wake up
too early, like you.

2. my heart beats harder than I ever thought it could and
i didn’t know i could be aware of my own organs like this
is this what it’s like to have your body turn inside out
i am losing a race I didn’t know I was running
there’s an earthquake on my sternum
and aftershocks in my aorta
is this permanent how to breathe steady
each rib tightening to keep me in place
keep me from

f l o a t i n g a w a y

3. i let you go today
handful by handful
milky memory in the snow-water
i imagine you lying in the sun
hat over your face
knees up and open
we left you there
in the sun
on top of a waterfall
in the trees
in your favorite mountains

we replaced dust
with earth-bones
pine cones
wildflowers
somehow, they feel more like you
than your body did
to me curing cancer
feels like counting specks of dust
so handful by handful
maybe we were healing you
or maybe we were healing ourselves
or maybe that’s the same thing.

Mira Baum is a junior in Columbia College majoring in Archaeological Anthropology and concentrating in Sustainable Development. She recently overcame a years-long bout of writer's block and is looking forward to continuing in her poetic ventures! In her free time, she enjoys Shakespeare, re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and being outdoors. Instagram | Facebook