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.

Two months after, she realized
she could not envision his eyes—
smoky brown, heavily lashed—
searching for her.

After the first year, she lost
his voice, no longer felt its timbre
resonating in her head,

and by the second, the texture of
that early gray hair she cut
in the backyard—gone.

Four years in, she forgot
how it felt to hold him exactly,
and worse, how he held her,

how she’d press her head
against his chest to hear
that clicking valve,
plastic encased in a heart.

She remembered the silence after
it stopped, and him
coldcoldcold in his chair,
one foot fallen off the ottoman.

She touched that porcelain foot,
wore it heavily in her lap as she sat
on the hard wood floor,
felt death thud inside her.

She should have recorded his voice,
memorized his hug, tucked
away snips of hair after cuts—
something, anything
to make him stay.

Now and again, in dreams, he
appears, calls her by name,
his deep voice resonating
through the pillow and
the thick of sleep.

She tries to drag it
with her into daylight,
but she wakes to only memory,
too distant to touch.

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