Companion Spirit is a collection of poems written after the death of Jan Haag’s husband, Cliff Polland (left), in 2001. The poems in the three sections of the book—“Aftermath,” “Leaving Cliff,” and “Rescue”— chart a course through loss, grief and recovery. They demonstrate laughter as well as grief, daily life as well as beauty and terror in the liminal spaces between life and death. In the process the poet comes to recognize the companion spirit that never leaves the beloved and experiences love that endures even death.
Published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2013.
What it comes to is this:
Though we appear to die, we do not.
Death is merely a change of address,
and loved ones wend their way home
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, really,
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,
– Jan Haag
from Companion Spirit © 2013, Amherst Writers & Artists Press
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