Photo credit: Sean Hewer. All rights reserved.

You were here yesterday
And this morning.
How can you be just
In the time it takes
To blink, or breathe
Or turn to look, 
You left.
Now, there is endless time
To weep, to rage,
To question, and yet
Go on.
I don’t know how to be
Here without you.
How can you be just

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Dedicated to the brother of my brother, who was much loved and is deeply missed.


Image by jplenio on Pixabay

Willow tree languishes,
Graceful, trailing branches
Naked and exposed;
Mourning the fallen leaves
Now scattered, dry, decaying, 
Returning all to dust.

Bare limbs sway in chill wind
But strong roots hold firm, 
Drawing on unseen wellsprings
That nourish and sustain
Through seasons of deep sorrow, 
Replenishing spent tears. 

Yet, within, new hope builds— 
Anticipation of that soft budding flush, 
Infant leaves waiting to unfurl
A fresh and verdant veil
When the wailing of winter
Is finally over. 

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam


Here, there is only ‘after’.
There is silence and loneliness,
And emptiness exactly the shape of you.

Dense, grey afterness pervades the now, 
Filtering light and colour,
Casting deep, indelible shadows
Over everything that remains.

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Still Afloat

At the mercy of the waves,
Alone on an inky sea; 
No moon, no stars for guidance, 
Drifting aimlessly.

The night is dark and endless,
The horizon cannot be seen, 
Relentless waters billow, 
The wind howls, cold and keen.

Though heaved and hurled and battered,
Still she remains afloat,
Resilient, determined, 
That sturdy little boat. 

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Morning. Also, Mourning.

Photo: ©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Mornings are the hardest:
The time of day
When you’re just not there.
Silence and Emptiness loiter 
In the cold spaces 
Once filled and warmed by you,
Waiting to slap my face
And punch my grief in the guts
Just like they did yesterday
And every day before that
Since you’ve been gone. 
I will myself to stride past them, 
Full of false bravado, 
But then I crumble:
I clutch my memories to my breast
And weep.

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Farewell, My Friend.

Image: MoiraKarem via Pixabay

For you, no more waiting for heaven,
And no more praying for peace:
Your fight is over, your work is done, 
You have found your eternal release.

I wasn’t ready for you to leave—
But I never would have been,
So I remain here, without you,
In this miserable in-between.

My heart is broken, my words are gone,
I have cried a million tears, 
And the hurt cascades inside me
Each time I realise you’re not here.

We made a lifetime of memories, 
Full of family, friendship and song, 
And I know it was just a rehearsal
For where you are now, all along.

But this feels nothing like heaven:
I so miss your warmth and your smile,
The music you brought to every day,
The way you made each day worthwhile.

I will always love you and miss you, 
And life will never be the same, 
I will cherish your memory forever
And always smile when I speak your name. 

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam


Image: ©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

It poured with rain
The day of your funeral, 
We stood, quietly morose, 
Around the freshly dug grave
Roses in hand for a last farewell,
And it seemed to fit 
The mood, the misery, 
The bleak finality.  
We said our goodbyes
Then left you there, 
Scattered with roses;
The rain kept on falling
As we walked away, 
As cold and grey as the sky.

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Upside Down.

Image: ©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

I don’t know how to do this.
I don’t want to say goodbye,
But I have no choice,
You have taken your wings,
And I have to let you fly. 

In a moment you were gone
And life turned upside down;
Too soon. Too final. 
And now we gather to lay you
To rest in the lonely ground.

The grave seems so absolute, 
Stark proof you’re really gone:
It’s a mystery
That your life can be over
And yet, your soul lives on.

Your life is now in heaven, 
Eternal peace and rest, 
My comfort is knowing
You’re in Jesus’ arms
Safely treasured, fully blessed. 

Life here without you is hollow,
The days all seem so long, 
I have grown weary of cliches
And platitudes 
That feel so empty and wrong.

The future is bleak without you, 
I don’t know what life will be, 
But wherever I go
And whatever I do,
I will take you there with me.

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Mourning Song

Photo artwork by Joanne Van Leerdam. June 24, 2020.

Tears fall,
Can’t stop them,
Can’t hide them.
You’re gone,
Can’t bring you
Back again.
Why am I always the one who is feeling
The pain of the wrenching and tearing of leaving?
Why must this pain be so raw deep inside of me?
My heart
Misses you
Please say
That you won’t
Forget me.
I can’t imagine my life without you in it,
Bereft of the light and the joy of your loveliness,
Every room filled with the echoes of memories.
To be the
Same again.
Tears fall,
Into the

©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

Mourning Song.
#poetry #grief #Emotions #poetrylovers #personal #ReadAWrite

This poem is included in my collection titled ‘Leaf’.

Letting Go.

Image: ©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

You held my hand for so long
Or was it just me holding onto yours?
Somewhere, in a sleight of hand,
Familiar affection transformed into
Holding on for dear life,
Interlocking fingers
Exchanged for a rescue grip.
I beg you to hang on, to not let go,
I pray for the strength I lack
To pull you back from the edge, 
For just a little more time with you,
And for the courage to be what you need;
But you slip from my arms— 
Whether by choice or the power of gravity, 
I shall never know—
And I watch, helpless and alone,
As you fall gently into yesterday
Where I must leave you.
I wipe my last goodbye from my eyes
And hope that when my time comes
A gentle hand will hold mine
Until I, too, must fall. 

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