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An ambiguous grief: A poem

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JANUARY 28, 2023

1. denial

I wake up to a world that continues on 

without me

without us

I never wish to wake again if you are not within my reach


thousands of contemporary prayers whispered and embedded into my thoughts

you plague my vision, my memory

I am all I have left of you


I will get too emotional at Thanksgiving 

and swear nothing’s on my mind

that I’m not running away from anything

a heavy hiccup escaping the lips you once knew

no mom, I don’t need to lie down

I want you to come and get me


I hope the rain brings me to you

I hope where you once found solace in the gentle patter against the earth is now a place of longing

when all has been washed and faded away 

you are left only with the unrelenting scent of my forsaken love


2. anger

indiscernible screams and a desperate gasp in between

I choke on the air that once held your existence

and claw at the skin that memorized your fingerprints

I look in the mirror and tear apart the person that wasn’t enough for you, that wasn’t ever enough for anyone

indents from my nails and a twisted face I don’t recognize


singed fingertips, a lingering smoke

sparks from a flame you chose to smother

a name now so similar to mine — reduced to ashes


I tell myself it didn’t count

because how could you mourn something that barely even was

but we both know that’s not how it works

so I miss you and miss you with all of the universe

for even though we are still under the same sky

the stars have deemed you untouchable


3. bargaining

I fell in love when I met you, or at least I think I did

either I was numb for the ones before or desire had no effect on the outcome

depravity or hopelessness

I can’t tell which is worse


I had once wrapped up my affection for you

big bow, open arms

but it has been sitting in the corner for so long the nectar has leaked out the sides

I do not know what to do with it

and so I will sit in this rotting pool


tell me we are salvageable

that I am salvageable

that I am not absolutely devastated beyond repair

please occupy the space underneath me and let me show you the parts that make me whole

I’ll let you meld together my wires, make me something worthy of devotion

just please leave my heart be


I fear I am made up entirely of a nowhere love 


I store happiness in my shoulders

and content down my spine

this is where you are—heartache


4. depression

I started talking to the moon

I tell her about you

and grow jealous that it is no longer I who watches you sleep

she tells me you seem well

she refuses to answer

when I ask if you have been thinking about me


I am scouring the world in search of a place that doesn’t remind me of you

I fear I will always be stuck with your presence

destined for a life you left behind


where I will wear your memory like a big old coat

one that I bring out on my coldest days 

when the wind leaves me hollow and raw

and all I have is a broken zipper

how ironic 

we are both things that you have shed


I sleep because it is either I meet you in my dreams 

or I wake to another day closer to forgetting you

I can feel my heart weeping in every inch of my being

it burns as fervently as it had loved


darling, i am so tired

won’t you let me rest just this once, just for a little while?

the love that is all I know

still remains so unfamiliar to me

I have longed for you longer than I’ve known you


5. acceptance

a bar cart and a case of vinyls

at least two vases and an abundance of cutlery for my friends

there will come a day where I decorate a place of love, a home of my own outside of your arms

from sunday mornings to friday nights and midday midweek naps

over and over again I will forgive myself in the way that you couldn’t

it is not my fault that I love so intensely


there is a new sparkle in my eyes

don’t you wish it was for you?

Contact Ashley Yoon at 


JANUARY 28, 2023