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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 Georgann)

The few words at the top
of a page that jabs like
a jagged fingernail,
despised by those who arrange
words into neat columns—

that’s me,
stuck at the top of a block
of tumbling nouns and verbs
and adjectives messily set
on a page. I never asked to be
here while the rest line up
neatly below, wearing raised
eyebrows of concern.

But then, later,
I look down and notice
them propping me up,
pushing me to the top as
dolphins do when one in their
pod is ill and needs to find air.

It is not necessarily pity—
they support the widow
at the top, helping
her breathe,
reminding her of
all that is underneath.

Two dolphins in the water, one at the surface, the other under the water below the other one

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