Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
—Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Burning the Old Year”

The shouts of the grieving form
a collective wail, a rising lamentation

that stings the eyes, chokes the throat—
the absence of so many loved ones,

locked away for the duration or
buried in haste for fear of the virus.

We miss them, the departed, as we’ve
not missed others; the dissonance

throbs in our chests. Come back!
we plead as we realize there is no

going back. It’s a new world, one
we must remake without them,

one in which we must turn to
each other when we emerge

from isolation, all of us aching,
looking for some place to share

a word, a touch, our love.
Might that be with you?

Putah Creek, UC Davis Arboretum / Photo by Jan Haag

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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1 Response to Absence

  1. Cora Johnson says:

    Well said. Thank you.

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