When the grandmothers arrive with crowns of pollen

you will ask for something to be unhidden, you will expect it
to arrive solemn and fierce, Gabriel on a holy mission
but in your dreams, the bees have been
thrumming with want, they have touched your mouth with the promise of freedom
not a burning coal, but pollen
ripe and rich
they want to bring you what you need, and so
what you need to know tiptoes in on soft, bare feet
shows itself quietly, there is no need for shouting
the ancestors are here, the women
have arrived
from the moment you called, they rose up with their crowns
and now, pay attention child, use your smallest ears
from when you first knew that there are things
that roam the wild places far beyond words, behind
what is shown to the world, despite what you have hoped for
you might not be enough, sometimes a hunger is too old
too vast, for only one to fill
there will be searching beyond your skin, beyond your presence
hold that for a while, your wrist threatening to yield
to this weight
see how it fits the shape of your hand, your life of second chances

what you ask for arrives in the shape of a pebble
she throws it at the window, the frangible place
where your heart grows planted in the soil of another, she is not the only one
there are stones all over, carried by others, little words left behind
small invitations, despite your presence
when you notice them, your breath catches in the storm door of your throat
snagged, it struggles
a hummingbird caught in a net
you want, with your five-year-old hands
to lock the door from the inside
to protect it from what you know is coming

wait with your softness, wait with your trust
stand back and listen with your eyes
if you have asked for it to be shown, it is
because you have known from the beginning
that there is more than what you have been given
here is your answer
what will you do with what you have been shown
what of the pebble, the small stones, the window
who opens it, who closes it

the grandmother of your grandmother stands watching
waiting for you to learn what she was given
again, i must ask you, what will you do with what you have been shown
remember, for what you have just received may you be
truly thankful, blessed be
and amen

wait with your trust, wait with your softness
remember the hum of the small bird
even though you will wish
that you could undo the asking, undo your need
for knowing things ahead of time, it is only that you need
to be map and compass, and knife and whetstone
something might be readying itself behind a tree, outside its burrow
waiting to jump out at you, perhaps the claws are sharp
the mouth a hungry cave
you think that you will need a rock, a stick
to hold it at bay
a weapon

you may be right

you have seen this before, have read the end
before the beginning, before you let yourself exhale in the middle
there was that one time
when you went looking for what you heard in the night
how it charged, ran straight at you, the roaring inside your head
certain you knew who your foe was
the story already alive inside your mouth, the end
already familiar, believed as truth
by your own bones, the cage around the flesh of your heart
what you called your own, was claimed
what you ate was loss
how you didn’t see where it came from, certain you knew

you were wrong

how just before your life, as you wanted it
as you hoped it would be
was over
the thing you feared the most, stumbled, her wings torn
only to fall at your feet
baptised by the early morning dew


— when the grandmothers arrive with crowns of pollen | words with Elizabeth

© Liezel Graham 2021

{Image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash}

I haven’t written a ‘words with Elizabeth’ in a long while.

Today seems fitting. May the grandmothers arrive with crowns of pollen and show you what you need to know.

And may you know that what you think you see, is not always what you have been shown.

And may you remember that stones can be thrown at windows—small invitations, despite your presence. Look to see whether the window stays closed, or whether it is opened. This is important to note. Pay attention.

And sometimes, things can come roaring at us, at everything we hold precious, only to fall at our feet weeping.

And as always, be careful what you ask for, if you mean what you say, be ready for the answer.


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