goddess of compassion

quan yin

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,

meet me in the sweet café—also
recently gone—on capitol avenue,

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

your eyes closed, holding the space
for all of us, listening to me lecture,

but i cannot hear myself. i focus on
your plummy eyelids, your chest

rising and falling with soft breath,
the jade beads of your mala

circling your wrist, you who embody
lovingkindness, 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.

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About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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8 Responses to goddess of compassion

  1. Annie says:

    Jan, have you or Katie considered approaching Open Books here in Seattle about selling Marie’s Seaworthy? Open Books is one of only three poetry-only bookshops in the country, and I can’t believe they wouldn’t love her book. Just a thought.

  2. Margo Fowkes says:

    Jan, this is just beautiful. You have such a way with language. I love reading your poetry. And what a beautiful tribute to Marie.

  3. Hilary A says:

    You are the gift, because you see others as such. xo

  4. That last line! Just perfect. Sending love, Jan.

  5. janishaag says:

    Thank you, Chris. So kind of you to say so!

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