small words and their slippery, hollow weight

the small words are the hardest to say.

in some bodies they refuse to leave the mouth at all. this is a sign that you must pick up with your bare hands. some things must be examined closely.

other bodies have a mouthful of words that are not rooted. they climb up their throats, slippery and hollow. they are plasters stuck onto deep cuts. ripped off easily, they refuse to stick, refuse to bring healing. they sound like ‘i will change’, but they are only an intermission—this is a sign that you must pick up with your bare hands. some things must be examined closely.

there are small words that mean nothing unless the skin of the body is peeled back and the flesh beneath it tended to with light—words need to be owned, need to be tied to things that sound like, ‘i was wrong and i will own this and i will tend to the hurt that i carry and i will not make you pay for what i was given and i will hold myself accountable for the things that i do and for each word that falls out of my mouth.’

— sorry

© Liezel Graham 2022.

look for the patterns.

apologies are a part of healthy relationships.

when they are sandwiched in between violence, or other forms of abuse—meaningless, and leading to no change, no sign of true ownership of destructive behaviour—this is a red flag, a sign.

{stitched detail from ‘words with elizabeth’, an autoethnographic project, attempting to honour the women and the men in my family, who were affected by domestic violence.

i am combining my poetry with words that are often found in the domestic violence narrative, and i am free stitching these onto items of intimate vintage clothing}

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