Gaia Rajan

Nostalgia Is The Prettiest Liar

I sit in the dark and watch a white woman cosplay 1930. She says
it must’ve been simpler back then, incants it with the air
of a prayer, smiles and snaps white gloves on. Grayscale televisions
that volt static like lightning. A bride lacing a corset up her back
with knives. They say if your hands were darker than the white gloves,
you were sent to a different immigration center. They say
the alternate centers ordered more coffins than water. There’s a study
in which rhesus monkeys, separated from their mothers, pick soft linen
over food. The monkeys weren’t named until they died. The white woman
likes old cars and borders. Says transformative with the confidence
of an executioner. A judge, separating another child from its mother,
says I don’t remember your names but I’m sorry, there’s nothing
I can do.
Calls us doomed in the same voice he lists his bills,
the groceries. The white woman owns fifty pairs of ivory-white
gloves. There’s a study in which ten people, left alone in an empty room,
recall their ghosts so clearly the room begins to shake, so clearly
a table leg smashes against the wall, so clearly a voice from their memories
weaves like a noose into the smooth cages of their skulls.
Only some can imagine the past and see a mission. The white
woman’s nostalgia flicks blond lights on in the city and rides
over skyscrapers, littering the earth with smoke, with glass.
Her nostalgia flays open a past for remaking. Her nostalgia
spears peaches at the dinner table, blood seeping out onto the plate,
and it drinks until crimson smears down its jaw, drinks until
blood rushes to its eyelids, drinks and drinks and



Gaia Rajan lives in Andover, MA. She's the Managing Editor of The Courant and the Poetry of Saffron Literary. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Split Lip, Hobart, Rust+Moth, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, "Moth Funerals," is forthcoming from Glass Poetry Press in fall. She is sixteen years old.