look at you, healer, keeper of the scars

it is possible to outgrow a name
to grow out of its small, tight seams

you know that, right?

but also, it is possible to grow into a thing
perhaps, a healing
and you, never quick enough to get to the water
it isn’t easy, i should tell you this
some of us have been given the weight
of old failures, and stories
that were crafted by bodies who would not look
to the left, or to the right
for fear that they might break wide open
and you, with your apple-blossom hands, your plump little legs
not yet knowing what is yours, and what isn’t
you might be the hidden hope of your grandmothers
you might be the one who turns, who says
no more’ and really means it

haven’t we all said it and then fallen over our own feet

here, let me tell you something true

if you see a name that you want to grow into, a name
that wasn’t give to you, but the soft shape of it calls
across the stories that you were given, the things that
you have picked up and started to believe
as the only way out, the only truth
—the shadow of them always hovering

this is a small truth that i eat from every day, how there is light
but we get to choose whether we want to inch closer
towards the fire, and the warmth of it, or away from it
even on the edges, the periphery of a life

although, we also get to choose whether we open the circle wider
for others to crawl closer

still, here you are with your hands full of impossible dreams

who knows which of your ancestors yearned to be called, ‘peace
and failed to step into it

and now there is you, tomorrow’s hope

listen, take off your old clothes, lift the corners
of what you want for your life
and climb inside

there is nobody to stop you, you can pull it over your head
stretch your arms into the sleeves of it
and turn

this is a courage, and you are

now, it needs watering, and a kindness
that you might still be teaching yourself how to be

don’t be afraid, where there is life inching towards the light
there is always grace, and you
with your new name, your brazen refusal
to be what you were never called to be, to shed
what has slipped through the ages, what keeps being born
and keeps being born, and keeps being born
in the stories of your people

look at you, healer, keeper of the scars

here you are pulling the sheets off of the heavens, calling to the clouds asking for the rain with your stubborn faith
slaking the thirst of all the soft bodies who carry your name,
all the soft bodies who died wandering the desert.

© Liezel Graham 2023

{image by Jeremy Bishop, on Unsplash}

i don’t think this one needs much of an introduction

i think it can stand on its own legs and speak for itself

look at you, healer, keeper of the scars

keep being the water for the ones who couldn’t find their way to the well


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