Published on Academy of American Poets (

Entry for Not an Island

where the sea circles around the island in a star pattern – where in the center of grieving we are disoriented, skinless – where I wade into the field . . . the scent of sun on wheat – where the horses bow in & out, kick up a hoof, satisfied, perhaps, in their available bodies – where I’ve located a tiny refuge : the horizontal view from the house on stilts – where we hide the part of us that shudders, without a script – where in grief, even our own stories feel vacant – where you hear yourself telling the story & at the same time you think that’s not it, that’s really not it – where the ice plants glow in a translucent bandage across the cliff face – where impermanence is the direct expression of emptiness & emptiness is the best description of reality – where you wake from sleep to see someone leaving, but only the drape of their scarf across their back – if grief is a shining fruit


Copyright © 2018 by Gabriel Jesiolowski. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Months after Rohen’s passing on Lopez Island, I kept trying to give grief a form. I wanted to breathe without it draping over my shoulders like an X-ray apron. But grief has the power to shape-shift. I remember walking up the dirt drive in twilight, meeting the gazes of horses in the field. We were all body, no body, an island, a shadow. Loss is also a gift. Then it seemed clear.”
—Gabriel Jesiolowski


Gabriel Jesiolowski

Gabriel Jesiolowski is a writer, artist and curator. Their debut poetry collection, As Burning Leaves (Red Hen Press, 2017), won the Benjamin Saltman Award. They live in Los Angeles.

Date Published: 2018-06-22

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