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From Vol. 5, Issue 9, September 2023

Freedom from imagined grief

Practicing Stoicism || OLIVIA HAJIOFF

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An Imagined Grief

How long will they be with us, the ones we love?
He seems as present as the washed dish in my hands,
still damp and squeaky.
But I know there is no time between life and death.
He could be gone before the dish is dry.

Sometimes I allow a flicker of imagined grief to come.
Just a tiny flame that catches the corner of a page of my mind.
I blow it out before it erupts and swallows me.

I imagine the days would pile on top of each other, moving nowhere.
That I would become smaller until I might cease to exist at all.

I dare not explore too far.
Just enough to remember what is here.
And to not forget that the glass, though whole, is already broken


I learned an ancient word today.
Such a beautiful, sad word:

There are those who, in their quest for reality,
See only the wound, but not the healing skin beneath.
They immerse in the infinite misery that besets us
And cannot open ears or eyes to the speckled joys that also
share our world.

The seek-sorrow frowns at delights
and bids you furrow also.
I know those who are so.
Perhaps you do, too.

But may we not be beckoned
by the small, clear, Autumn sky
and the tide of leaves rushing towards us
and the mourning dove’s strange, creaky-winged flight?

Are such glories to be ignored
so that we may not distract from suffering?
Perhaps there is room enough for both i
n our unbounded consciousness

For, in truth, the sorrows need no seeking
and neither do the joys.

Olivia Hajioff, a Fulbright scholar, has published poetry in The Road Not Taken, The Lyric, Jersey Devil Press, Ginosko Literary Journal, Better Than Starbucks, Light, Penumbra and the Front Porch Review, among others. She is winner of the Laura Riding Jackson Poetry Competition. Professionally. Olivia is a concert violinist.