goddess of compassion

Jan Haag teaches journalism and creative writing at Sacramento City College where she is the chair of the journalism department and advises student publications. She is the author of Companion Spirit, a collection of poems about her husband’s death at the age of 48, published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press. She leads writing groups in Sacramento where the topic of grief and loss often arises. Read more of her beautiful writing here.

for marie (1951-2018)

after steven died, you would show up
on occasional friday nights

for my creative writing class, the one
you, my favorite local poet, could

have taught, arrive without poem
or pen, saying you just wanted to sit.

and so you did, sometimes with eyes
closed, a meditating quan yin amid

students scribbling in composition
books in the old trailer by the football

stadium less than a mile from your
house. now, almost a decade later,

what i have left are your poems.

i barely sleep; you arrive in dreams,

meeting me in the sweet cafe — also
gone now — on capitol avenue, or

back in that classroom, your slight
form origami’d into a tiny desk

your eyes closed, listening to my
lecture, but i cannot hear myself.

i focus on your plummy eyelids,
your chest rising and falling

with soft breath, one hand holding
a mala, its jade beads circling

your wrist, you who embody
loving kindness, having left

the body that was no longer
serving you. i whisper your name.

your purple eyelids smile at me —
you, my friend; you, the poem.

Photo by Keren Su/Getty Images

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