valley of shadow and ash by annelies zijderveld

valley of shadow and ash – first draft 

in this valley of shadow and ash,
i quake and tremble of the forward,
the backward keening out of view.

how to move on without losing
how to let go without-

to be present and awake to life in its simplicity :
the iguana crawl, crab scuttle, monkey swing
by tail or arm, the turtle flail in sand;- her time come

how to stop time to sketch in the eyes
how to steer the wheel of time-


instead we take humble steps, we scratch
days off calendars, we light candles,

in death, the dead are whole, not fractured
fragments of bygone eras.

for a moment, we can hold all of them-
the mischievous child, high school band leader,
college student, husband, father, teacher.

for a moment our hands are full.

and then we find them grasping the shadow
of what once was, but can never be stolen or revoked.
take comfort in the permanence
of impermanence of coalescing from body to spirit
of watching the moth alight from the window into wind

by annelies zijderveld (c)


  1. Good draft!

    assuming you’re looking for thoughts, if not please disregard.:

    My first impression on first read is that you have two poems here. Or at least 2 powerful emotions / thoughts that could each hold their own in a poem. Maybe that’s what you’re going for.

    I was going to say flesh out the feeling around the line “for a moment our hands are full.” but then I thought possibly a complete second, though related, idea started around “instead we take humble steps, we scratch
    days off calendars, we light candles,”

    You could play off this dichotomy or make two really good poems…or do neither. It’s your show, I’m just watching 😉

  2. That is beautiful. It calls me to celebrate the temporary existence of the impermanent rather than mourn its passing.

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