Photo by Anna Zhou ’25

You came to me in seasons.
In summer, you were bright and full of life.
You climbed your way up the staircase on all fours
And dared me to do the same.
You had a nice smile,
So I listened to you.

I tripped over those stairs.
That summer was a series of awkward renditions,
With me squeamishly asking for your pat­ience
As we traversed the great unknown.
After a time, things stopped being exciting for you.
We did them more, and I became more comfortable.
Things got less awkward for me as the sun got paler
And the clear, starry nights passed away.
But when I asked you to do the things we used to,
You didn’t smile so bright anymore.

Fall was lukewarm,
Like hot chocolate too watered down–
More for lack of appropriate timing than for anything else.
I pulled out my sweaters and my pump-kin-themed streamers,
And you shrugged your shoulders and frowned.
When you looked at me,
I was not in front of you.
You were looking at something beyond me,
That I was in the way of, now.
I felt our time was running out.

Winter came, first a bitter and biting breeze,
Then an avalanche outside our door,
Yelling at us and banging on the wood to let it in.
I was comfortable being in the house, but we were angry
As we hid in our respective corners of the room,
We were more upset at being trapped with one another
Than at not being able to get out.

Then one night,
You fell into my arms and cried.
It felt like old times.
Snow fell in fat flakes onto your curls
And dissolved the way your tears did
On my fingers as I captured them.
You told me you felt cold,
So I offered you my jacket,
My shoulder,
My ear,
And my whole heart.
It was warm there.
I gave you all the things I thought I was supposed to give you,
And that was still not enough.
I didn’t realize that you can’t formulate relationships
For them to work, like math.
It’s more like English,
But we never talked to each other,
Because you squirmed when you thought we had nothing to say.

I had everything to say to you,
I just hadn’t warmed up.
You never gave me time.
Suddenly, your patience with my problems was a compromise,
But I had to pull that information out of you.
You expected that my fire would always be kindled–
But by who?
Because it could no longer be you.

I pretended that it was.
And then you stopped needing me.
You went to other sources for warmth and comfort,
Because you seemed to have forgotten that
You kindled my fire
As much as I did yours.
You seemed to think that
My wood was not enough.
You seemed to think that
Our wood could not exist together,
That we weren’t built to last in this weather.

I thought I did everything I could to repay you,
But I let you get too close.
You didn’t just provide warmth.
You burned me at the stake.
You let me take and take,
Even when I told you not to.
It’s my fault, too.
Somewhere in the fire I got lost
And couldn’t figure out when the water was enough.
So I stopped watering you,
And you stopped watering me too.
There were secret tunnels in the house,
Leading us away from each other,
And eventually, it all got burned down.

When you burned out,
Spring came.
You were surrounded by tons of budding flowers.
They tilted your way, in the way of the sun.
You watered their soil,
And they watered yours.
It was all one giant circle.
I was somewhere on the outskirts,
With a large floppy hat and unnecessary gardening tools.
Whatever you had asked of me before,
You did not need now.
You were getting it from somewhere better,
From someone else.

I can’t figure out what happened.
When I argued that “it happened to you,”
You crumbled, dust slipping through my fingers.
That had not been what I had meant to say.
I felt my heart explode.
It seemed that no matter what I said to you,
It was never right anymore.

And sure, some things were wrong.
But some things you ran from,
Things that I depended on you for,
And things I gave to you because I needed to.
At the end of the day,
Our relationship was an exercise in who could give the most to who
Until we both burned out.

In the summer,
We passed.
I wish I knew who and where you are now,
But your grass is growing miles high,
And mine is too.
I just always imagined that my grass would grow with you.

Mikayah Parsons ’24 is a staff writer
mparsons24@amherst.edu

Anna Zhou ’25 is a staff artist
azhou25@amherst.edu