Photo by Nilay Ramoliya from Pexels

I have sewn these seams a hundred times:
Letting out,
Taking in,

Adjusting for change,
Suturing wounds
And mending the tears
Through which too many have left, 
Exposing for a moment
That which I wish to keep hidden:
Tender flesh, secret places, 
A soul worn and tattered; 
Safely concealed 
Beneath the careful tailoring
And confident colour
Of that which I display to the world.

In the quietness of my sanctuary,
I gather my fraying finery
Close to my breast,
Protective of its frailty,
I  weep, 
Overwhelmed by the agony
Of an injury so profound
It may never be repaired.

And then,
Because I have no choice,
I begin to stitch,
Yet again.

©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

Shadows of You

Image by Karen_Nadine on Pixabay

There are so many things
I wish I could tell you,
So much I want to say:
I love you.
I miss you.
I want you back.
I wish you were here today.
Life is not what it used to be,
My wishes are nothing but air,
The emptiness aches.
The quietness moans.
Shadows of you are everywhere.
I weep with depth of longing,
Miserable, lonely, bereft:
I love you.
I miss you.
I want you back,
And the memories are all I have left.

ⓒ2020 Joanne Van Leerdam


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

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