a meditation for my words.

may kind things,
honest things,
soft things,


that know

how to cut flesh
from gristle,

from lie,

find their way past me,

as they climb up my throat
on strong, bare feet.

may they fly,

crawl, if they must.

find the hunger
find the holes.

the place
where everything
smells like giving up.


may they be full.


one more day.


— a meditation for my words.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Aaron Burden.

something that came to me this morning as i was meditating—blessing my words.

if your heart yearns to be a healer in any form, may this be for you.



you watch for it, wait for it,
front door open, a hungry view
to the street below, the tree at the bottom of the garden, now full of a pink summer, a whole year has grown, and do you remember when love walked in on soft feet, floor boards creaking in the afternoon light, a second chance, your hands so full
of the newness, the choosing of you
over and over.

— then.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Noah Silliman.

for e.g.

Image by Noah Silliman.

how to love like heaven

all day i stay hidden.

hiding from the pain that climbed into my head whilst i was sleeping, settled itself comfortably behind my eye, an old foe and how familiar we are to each other, by now.

it settles a mood on me—grey, a storm fills my mouth, and what falls from my tongue has sharp edges, howls.

i try to shape my words carefully with soft hands, call them love, but

i fail.

i am not always what i want to be.

in the late afternoon, he bursts into my bedroom, climbs onto my lap, spills his long limbs all over me, his boy hands on my cheeks, eyes finding mine,


is your head sore, mom?
i think you are grumpy and cross because it hurts.
it’s ok.
i still love you.

all the things we have taught each other, always his eyes are on mine, searching for the way home, true north, grace.

his hands still full of all the things that smell like heaven.

— how to love like heaven.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Annie Spratt.

Image by Annie Spratt.

ken jy my

vertel vir my hier waar ons sit,


mekaar se vrees ontbloot.

flardes, flenters

gebruikte liefde, oud

en stukkend aan mekaar verkoop

as iets wat dit nie is nie,

nooit sal wees nie, nuut

en wit.


ek en jy.

en ken jy die roep van die tarentaal

as die karoo son sak vir haar nag se dwaal

na die donker anderland.

en ken jy haar stem as sy weer

verlig, vlerke stukkend


na haar sterre dans?

— ken jy my?

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Foto deur Evie S.


Foto Evie S.

the secret life of things

at the bottom of the field which held my father’s crops,

the bees lived.

hives of faded wood hugged the river, owned the sun.

secret things happened here.

when the frames were full,

he would harvest the warmth of summer.

forearms straining under the weight of a chipped enamel basin full of a season,

he would leave it on the kitchen table.


that hidden things eventually find their way to the light.

wax shaped, moulded into tight pieces,

stuffed into the furthest corners of my mouth,

honey filling the cracks of a childhood, dripping

from my lips.


that there was sweetness, too.

— the secret life of things.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Damien Tupinier.

Today, is World Bee Day.

I remember the white wooden
hives at the bottom of our field.

I remember the chipped enamel basin full of summer’s sweetness.


Image by Damien Tupinier.

womb | words with elizabeth

she tells me how she knocks on doors,
for a thing that she cannot

only knows that it is familiar,

covered her with shame,

this fetal need, this

hand-me-down pain
from all the women before,


that it never leaves.

quietly gnaws its way
through her, and that

a mother is not formed
by labour, by

spilling blood, by


sometimes there is no room
inside for anyone else, long

the cord is cut, the joy
grown old.


standing there,
nine years old, she is (still)

hoping for a place at the table, but

like before.
like before,

she hopes,

never gives up.

what does that even mean,
she says.


she has wrapped herself
in steelwool, pulls it

over her shoulders

every day
for all the moments that run

into a life, but

at night
she sheds it, knows

in the dark, in the quiet

she must soften
breathe, or

else, she will walk
with the same limp, hold

the same barbed wire
in her mouth.

she hopes, she says

that it is ok to feel this as loss,

that it is ok to mourn
every empty

that was ever put before her.

knows, she was made for love.

made to be filled with it,
brimming over
until she groans with laughter


the fullness of it, sticking
to her heart, sticking
to her ribs,

all the roundness of it,
in her veins, she has

tasted it once, maybe
twice before.

she remembers.

she was made for all of this.


she is allowed to hold out her hands,

with thirst,

with hunger.

made for eating love.

nothing else.


there is a womb with her name on it, but it is not here.

— womb | words with elizabeth.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Serafima Lazarenko.

when you are found

when you are not looking for it, not searching for it

under any circumstance, yet


it finds you

in all the places where you hide,

seeks out all the cracks
with patient hands,

every scar,

fills them up, falls
into your hands

wet with life,

clings to your skin,

all the drought that has shaped you,


— when you are found.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Danielle Dolson.

Image by Danielle Dolson.