To You, Death

I wrote this in preparation for participation in You’re Going to Die, an open mic night surrounding death, grief, and lost. I ended up deciding to get up on stage, not knowing what I’d say, seeing what wanted to come out. And yet, this poem wants to be shared. Dedicated to death, and to my sister Ariel:

I’m struggling to rest in the disparity,
Of 28 years of life and a supply of oxygen never breathed.
A lifelong marathon suddenly gone,
A lifelong symphony composed sings it’s last song.
Insurmountable grief that seeks relief,
A lack of process results in a heart bewildered by misery.
This morning I did my best to avoid and resist catastrophic anxiety,
Until it finally turned and asked, “This time will you stay with me?”
That question waited and waited for an answer,
Searching for the dance to take the lead of the dancer.
A heart closing down around this godforsaken request,
Wounds and disbelief waiting to be undressed.
Still not landing in a world with her gone,
Still hanging onto the last note of her song.
Because if I don’t she will cease to exist.
Memories only lasting until they too cease to persist.
How easy it is to say to accept and move on,
Tell me how to do that when there is no more ground to walk upon.
Tell me how to do that when her death rests as an amputated wrong,
Tell me how to do that when she’s already been dead for too long.
Impermanence is bullshit because there is one thing left unchanged.
Once someone dies that remains the same.
Each new morning, I’m a day further from her last breath,
The past sucked into a black hole of unforgotten duress.
Turned to face ahead, rushing always rushing towards….what? Death?
I do see how she’ll continue to be interwoven into every part of my future me.
Because she’s still interwoven into every part of my present me,
And I want to believe that will always be.
But what kills me over and over again,
Is that she died and I’m left with a story without end.
All I know of her life is whatever it is I observed and perceived,
I’m dreaming of timelessness where she can paint me her mystery.
I’m unwilling to let that dream die too,
What were we talking about the whole time that failed to include the truth?
I long for my heart to sing her a wordless, prayerful song,
And for her beating heart to be able to sing along.
She’s whispering for me to stay here and belong,
To wrestle with the pain that deepens this multifaceted throng.
There’s no where to get to she reminds me again,
Don’t let a moment escape unnoticed before you too reach the end.
And just as the last notes of the piano song reach my fingers,
I reach the reality that I’ll never be able to invite her over for dinner.
I’m not ready to fully know my sisters death,
But I can acknowledge the death that breathes life into this breath. ​

Gavrila Nikhila
Artwork by Cyril Rolando 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑