The shadow took it all

The Giving Tree was a book I read all the time growing up—it was one of my favorites.

Cover of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstine

The Giving Tree was a book I read all the time growing up—it was one of my favorites.

I slept with my closet door open last night.


I felt no tremors or uneasiness,

and I settled—



I dreamed of nothing but blank stares and emptiness

because that is how I have been feeling lately.

Like someone shelled me out;

like someone took everything, including the stuff that’s not even important,

so I would have nothing left to give.


And I’m not sure who took it—

what kind of a person could strip someone

of everything and anything they ever wanted?


Because I feel no purpose anymore;

there are no more goals to work towards

and no more dreams to pursue.

They have all slipped into the night,

and I can only hope they found a new home

in someone more worthy.


But then I step back,

and I watch a shadow step out from me.

It lifts a shrouded finger to point towards me

and I can’t help but stumble backwards onto my bed.

And I sit there and stare

as the unwanted and unwelcome truth washes over me.


Somehow it finds a piece I didn’t know I had left.

But it takes that, too,

and I watch as its darkness consumes the flicker of light.

It greys and fades

until it is reduced to nothing but darkness in a void,

but I don’t reach out for it because it is already too late.

And if the shadow wouldn’t have destroyed it

I would have done it myself, eventually.


It inches backwards into the closet

and disappears—its fog condenses,

sliding under a mountain of clothes

laid waste to the unvacuumed floor.

The closet I have not slept with open in sixteen years.