By Jess Barselow

trying to write and organize
feelings and thoughts that are
creating static from the rapid
hums and changes
intersecting attempts to codify
and represent the lack of order
that becomes silence.

nothing until the deluge begins again
forcing the train off the tracks
fastballs spinning
breaking and going in a
million different directions
scattering any sense of self,

puffy eyes,
deep breaths
“shouldn’t they be more upset?”
performing grief
after practicing for three years
and six months
preparing for this moment
I knew it but I didn’t.
a maelstrom inside
can’t be expressed
but slowly leaked out
every moment
of the last 16 months

calm in the face of chaos.
chaos in the face of calm,
you were the same
switching between past and present
because you were here but you weren’t
watching you change,
lose yourself
piece by piece
grieving didn’t start today,
but today
you are free.

Jess Barselow lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with three cats. They currently work as a Production Editor for the American Marketing Association’s academic journals. For years, Jess only wrote and edited formal, technical academic papers, but they recently found their way back to poetry as a way to process and express their complicated feelings about death and neurodivergence.

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