still, there was the leaf

i am not here to tell you how to live your life.

i am here to tell about mine.

the bones are the same, and the pulse that makes love to the inside of the wrist, the faithful kiss of it in the notch of the neck—we share this, you and i.

i tell my stories so that we don’t forget.
because we forget the things that call us to each other.

every day i take all the words that i own, shape them into gentle provocations, the sting of which i have already removed.

only the stimulus remains, the record of it.

always, i hope that someone might stumble over it, be forced to sit down, be forced to see what lies at their feet, be forced to see something they have never seen before—perhaps, another life.
the courage of the telling.
the invitation—be willing to draw close.

admittedly, here i speak of leaning in, inclining the head, unbuttoning the chest, opening the heart.

it is easy to look away, especially when the edges are too sharp, but listen—somebody else has lived a life that you might never have to.

the magnitude of this, the grace of it—not knowing the exact shape of another’s life.

but we have the words, the stories, the things that remain.

this is what i mean.

today, the sky was a small promise. perhaps you need this as much as i do? let me tell you—for a moment, empty of all its February water, it was big and blue, a thing to hold onto, a sign, and i walked empty, in search of a miracle, and the iris was kind enough to show herself just above the water, just enough strapping leaf for my eyes to hold onto.

it was all i could do to stop myself from climbing out of the boat and walking into the water, but i was afraid that i might go under.

still, there was the leaf.

and there were little things bursting into life, and yellow was dotted all over the gorse, and the smell of it was a sure thing—a little truth that called out across the withered meadow, but not for long, because i know this place well, i have just forgotten some things, and although i struggled at first—because sometimes i forget the shape of hope, and too ashamed to admit that i can’t remember what it sounds like, i fill up with all the things that i should say, all the stories that i should give life to—but don’t, and see how i rob you, how i steal from you, a moment in which to say, ‘dear God, this is me too’.

i am not here to tell you how to live your life.

i am here to tell about mine.

because we forget the things that call us to each other, the courage of the telling, how we all need water.

the way that we both exhale at the sight of yellow right in the middle of winter, the first leaf, how we share this, how we both need it.

© Liezel Graham 2022.

a photo of the first of the gorse at one of my favourite walking spots this morning—a sure sign, the yellow of it so extravagant in the middle of winter.

perhaps you need this too?

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