When I Go // by Hollie Ziskind

Who will pack my clothes and seal them in an airtight, clear plastic bin
To pull back the lid two years later, to sniff for the scent that was me?
Who will turn every picture upside down for months that roll into years because
It is too painful to pass a photo of me? Who will gently place my watch, earrings, glasses,
Favorite book of poems into a shoebox to finger through at 2 am?
Who will faint when I’m gone, too weak, unable to get their breath
Now that I don’t have mine? Who will stutter because the words refuse to come?
Who will grind my bones into ash that they can scatter in the wind,
Saving the last morsels to eat so they can hold me from inside themselves until they too
Are made into dust again? Who will love me
The way that I loved you?

Reflective Essay by Hollie Ziskind

I found transformation in the writing of When I Go after my loved one died tragically, and unexpectedly. My mourning stretched from months into years, as I processed the idea of grief in general, and his death specifically.

I remember how it felt to be inside my body, to be the one left behind. There was a visceral longing for some physical memento of the love we shared, some proof that together we did exist. But there was also agony in the unexpected, for example in the way my breath would hitch when I ran across a photo of him.

Though the grief itself never truly ends, the culmination of that acute phase brought me to this poem. It became an examination of the process in all of its minutia, the infinite chasm of sadness, along with the inevitable questions that come as we are forced to examine our own mortality each time we stare death in the face. And for me those questions allowed a letting go.


About Hollie Ziskind

Born on the northern plains, I’ve lived most of my life in Memphis, where I find inspiration in flowing waters and falling leaves, among other things. In my work, I have had many iterations in pursuit of a paycheck including, but not limited to: delivery girl, journalist, caterer, consultant, detective, and tattoo artist. But I have always been a writer.

Certified two years ago in the Amherst Writers and Artists method, I facilitate writing workshops for teens and adults. I love writing with others and helping them find their creative voices. I also knit, paint and collage when possible. Mother of two boys, 10 and 5, we hunt for talking animals and magical stones during the day and slay dragons at night. In my next life, I will write more, and sleep.

For now, I am a yogi-mother-artist-consultant-poetess-teacher-writer-and-lover-of-the-living-world; healing, awakening, transforming.

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