Jan Haag taught journalism, English and creative writing at Sacramento City College for more than three decades before her 2021 retirement. A former magazine editor, she is the author of Companion Spirit, a collection of poems about her husband’s death published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press. She leads in-person writing groups in Sacramento, as well as virtual ones, in which the topic of grief and loss often arises. Read more of her beautiful writing here.
Though we appear to die, we do not.
Death is merely a change of address,
and loved ones wend their way
like turtles or salmon or whales —
by smell, by feel.
This mourning, we do for ourselves,
but when we raise our heads,
sniff the breeze, feel gaps of air
between our ribs—if we give them
space, the dead loved ones return.
Or maybe they never left.
We only think they did, when
like snakes, they shed their only
skins and belly-crawled to the next place—
which is the first place,
which, when we think about it,