How not to drown.

Image by Tyler Lastovich

if you would let me
i would like to give you two small coins.
a gift.
my life would like to tell you something
which i think you already know, but
we forget things when we are trying not to drown.
we only know how to eat the air, how to look like we are
like we are having a good time out here by ourselves
in the rough green of the foamy water.
i want you to know that i see you.
let me slip you a rope
made from all the words that i give to myself
when i fall.
i have made an entire life out of this.
out of falling over my own feet.
people say that it’s only failure if you stay down.
if you don’t get up.
let me tell you this—there have been times
that i stayed down so long
that the earth moulded her soft, loamy self
to my shape and the moss found me
there in the quiet, velveted itself around all the guilt
that i wrapped around my wrist.
do you know it too?
{also, not everyone will admit to knowing its taste.
please, whatever you do, do not judge the borders of your own life by this}
the sycamore’s leaves covered my limbs
and the rain watered seeds that i couldn’t see
with my eyes, that i didn’t even know had been planted.
some of them were in the brazen shape of my grandmother’s
grandmother’s prayers.
old and grey, they were words that went out daily with work to do.
for just the right moment.
and when at last i was ready, and really
it was all about me. not them.
this is not selfish.
it is honest.
it’s how love works.
only then, a blackbird broke through the quiet
and threw a song wildly into the night.
and this is the grace that i have eaten
with my mouth stuffed full of every sharp thing
that i have named
‘wrong’, that i have forgotten to hold up to the light.
even then, even then
love never left me.
and eventually all the numbness in my bones
slowly got up
and left.
my voice found me again
and i was glad of this.
sometimes what i have called, ‘dead’
called, ‘sleeping’.
and things take the time that they need to take.
you do not have to pretend that you are swimming.
you do not have to pretend at all.
my life would like to tell you something.
you cannot fail at this because life is not a test.
sometimes the water is deep
and the earth a soft place.
a womb.
stay there. just keep breathing.
wait for it.
it lives.

— how not to drown

© Liezel Graham 2021.

For CW of the brave, wild heart.

Image by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash.

4 thoughts on “How not to drown.

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