A small story about lost stories

the sky is an upside-down ocean, and on certain days you might catch a shy glimpse of the other worlds in her surface, and stretching my body out to her endless blue, i am waiting for words to fall out of the water and into my hands, and who am i but a seeker; an unfeathered magpie who looks for lost stories; for forgotten stories that nobody remembers anymore, how i bring them home with me and give some of them a new place to live, and others i tend to their wounds, prepare them for the rest of their journey, how i stitch their frayed seams by the light of a small candle, how i plump up their stuffing-less limbs with mystery and truth, and after listening closely to what they want to share with me, i give their names back to them; sometimes i pin new names onto their velvety chests, because don’t we all need a new name more than once-in-a-while, and then, after a cup of spicy tea, redolenr with cinnamon, and drunk from my favourite China cup, and also for afternoon tummy rumbles, a fruit mince pie, i send them back out into the world, smelling like rose geranium and lemongrass, their pockets filled with slivers of sea glass smoothed by rocks and the waves, and also a grandmother-piece of blue-and-white-porcelain for courage, and i stand at the front door waving and blowing kisses at their fat little bodies walking down the road, see how they are waiting just to find other travellers who are also on their way home; travellers who might be hungry for what-they-don’t-know-they-don’t-know, perhaps even the things that they should have been told by their grandmother’s grandmother, but in the weight of trying to survive, they might have forgotten to pass it over, all the wisdom, and what we need to remember in this time-of-great-overwhelm are the names and the stories of ordinary people who woke to till the soil, who planted their dreams, who rose to fight the battles of their quiet, unassuming lives, who loved and failed and hoped, and made profound mistakes, some never recovering from the weight of the shame, and nobody there to tell them that it was ok, that ‘breaking’ doesn’t mean ‘broken’ doesn’t mean ‘beyond repair’, that they could be planted again, and again, and again, because really, we are all second-chance people, and we need to let second chances, and third ones, and ones that have no number, fall from our mouths like honeyed butterflies, we might allow others the quiet space in which to green themselves, maybe even being the canopy under which they might shelter away from the watchful eyes of others who only know how to spread judgement on the flanks of soft bodies who have fallen over their own feet, perhaps we might be this, we might be everything we would pray for ourselves, and they watch me—these stories that dwell in the parallel worlds that hold me, and every day i hear them whisper, ‘listen. listen. listen. don’t forget to look for our footprints. don’t forget to smell the air for the scent of our breath. don’t forget to eat the lessons that we left behind for you.’

© Liezel Graham 2022

{ some blue and white beauty as a new greeting card}

i have been quiet over here, but those of you who have followed my words for a while, will know that i need to be in my own world very often, and so i have been writing, and imagining, and designing things, and reading, and shaping the stories of my ancestors, how i am finding them one-by-one and how they honour my request when i ask them to show me their names and their stories, and how i am caught up in these ordinary lives with their ordinary stories, and how i find so much courage, and so much grief, and how years and years later where there was shame it no longer matters, but still, these stories happened, these lives were once breathing and they had to carry the sharp shape of judgement, and some of my people couldn’t stand up under the weight and they left too soon, and left holes in which others drowned in the grief, but they listen and they hear me and they show me where to find them, and one by one i say their names in the early hours of a quiet house, and i listen to what they are telling me, and i hold the lessons they left behind close to my chest, like treasure.

i am finding my roots and eating the stories that make me who i am.

x

the greeting cards will soon be in my studio shop. i am more than a little in love with anything blue-and-white.

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