Woman Becoming

by Nicole Callihan

Nicole Callihan

Now, it was December.

The body was a bare, brittle branch.

There had been other Decembers. The one of reaching towards the light, the one of shadow, that terrible childhood December out by the barn.

A bitter red berry squeezed between thumb and forefinger. The sunlight glinting off the broken champagne glasses in the busted cardboard box.

But one always believes the December they are in is the most vital of Decembers.

Or one always had believed this.

Maybe this, too, changes.

Her lips are stained, her teeth.

The shower water on her skin is water under another bridge’s body.

It’s like the diamond she and her cousin found one April in a pink fuzzy slipper in the discount shoe department.

For long moments, they thought it was real, that it would change everything, that they’d become rich, therefore happy, therefore bored.

But it wasn’t real.

Or that July, when, out by the pool, the man she’d decided she wanted to die near held his hand above her for so long there was a hand-shaped paleness through which the sun hadn’t cut.

It was almost like being touched.

November, she grew numb and glib. This too became her, the disinterested passion as the doctor inserted another long needle to drain the blood beneath the skin, the joke with the nurse about everyone dying alone.

Wasn’t it a joke? The laughter caught in the branches with the florescent moon.

But now, December. She lets the children drape silver tinsel on her limbs, place a lopsided star on her head. She stands beside the window, very still, where she’ll remain until at least the twelfth night. And then, she thinks, January, she’ll become darkness, and she’ll stay that way for a while, but after that, probably spring, probably then, she’ll become a bird, the one you fill the feeder for, unsure if she’ll ever return.

Everything is Temporary

Last updated November 23, 2022