advice to the drowning.

on a cold, winter’s day,

a man

carrying a heavy load, lost his footing and

fell

into a deep, icy

river.

exhausted

from the

cold

and

the weight he had been

trying

to hold

he struggled to keep his

life

above

the

blackness

below.

on the banks of the river

there were,

fortunately

for him,

several others

willing

to help.

and a rope.

‘keep your head above the

dark and look towards the light’

and

‘i am praying for you. this battle is surely

spiritual

and you can,

indeed,

you

must

win this fight.

have you tried fasting?’

and

‘this despair is all in your mind,

just think positive.

do not give in to the

negative thoughts that are

swirling,

they are false

and you have the power to

overcome

this water’

and

‘i fell into a similar river once,

the water was warmer

and

not

quite

so

deep,

but i got out.

and

so can you.

if you try hard enough’

and

‘i shall throw you an apple and

some

organic carrots.

eat yourself

from out of

that

dark space’

and

‘what weakness is this?

i wish that i too had

the luxury

of

letting go of my

load.’

and

‘if you only knew how many

people all over this world

have prayed

for water

like that

which you are

so

fortunate

to be in.

so

just

swim.’

but

the man

was tired.

worn out.

ashamed.

defeated.

and

nobody

had thought

to throw

the rope,

and

so,

surrounded by

advice,

he drowned.

and all the helpers

walked away

muttering,

carrying their

thoughts

and

prayers

and

holiness

to

find

others

more worthy

to save.

— advice to the drowning.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

#WorldMentalHealthDay

nothing has changed.

i walked along the lapping edge of a loch, seeking

the mute swan

who speaks her

peace

without a sound, finding

solace beneath the

tender canopy

of ash and

sycamore, for the world

is bleeding from her bones and every woman

that I carry within my

dna is afraid, it has

always been this way

the feminal voices whisper.

nothing has changed.

nothing

has

changed, since we buried

our bruises under layers

of silent resignation, carrying

the world in our womb

and our word

still

not

enough.

so, i take them by the hand

lead them by waters that

are quiet

and still,

seeking

the peace

of the wild things, the robin

calling from the undergrowth

and the wary fallow deer

always watchful,

of man

in this sylvan glade, where

nothing has changed.

nothing

has

changed.

— nothing has changed.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

EDIT: I have stumbled upon a beautiful poem by Wendell Berry, called ‘The Peace of the Wild Things’.

And in honour of his exquisite words — you really should read it — I have changed the title of my poem to ‘Nothing has changed.’

Lessons on Joy.

My neighbour

has a three-legged,

chocolate brown

Border Collie.

Every afternoon

I stand

at my window

and watch

her exuberant,

lopsided

joy

as she discovers

the familiar route

of her daily walk,

once again.

If she could

talk

she would tell you of

a long line

of hard-working

ancestors

who helped bring

order

to the

chaos

that often accompanies

farming life.

Speed,

and

agility

are in her DNA,

but

not

in

her bones

and

she has every right

to

mourn

the limb

that

never was —

the

absent

appendage

to her

wholeness.

But

all

she

does

is

live.

Loud,

vigorous

and

ebullient,

with

open-mouthed

enthusiasm

at

the great fortune

of

yet another

day.

And

my heart

contracts

at this

choosing

to grab life

and shake

it

upside-down

until all the

good

has fallen

out

of

its

pockets,

in

spite

of

all

that was

lost.

— Lessons on joy.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

How to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

And,

perhaps

what You meant,

was that I need to

unlearn

this

frantic

becoming.

This search for

position

and place

and purpose,

and instead

learn

how to

just

be.

Like a small child,

delighting in

how red ladybugs

are.

And,

do you know that whales sing

songs to each other?

Especially when they’re

sad.

And,

why is Wales called

Wales,

it doesn’t look like a whale?

To know that

heaven

is right here

and tomorrow

doesn’t have to have

a name

yet,

because

today

is really

all that matters

and

in all of this,

You are

all

around

me,

and

I am loved.

— How to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18 v 3.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

The places I cannot go, yet.

I am

a house of

many rooms.

Quiet, dusty corridors

sunlight

gently

dripping in

like liquid

gold.

How I love to drink my tea,

a lovely Assam,

malty on the tongue

and comforting,

as I walk through

these spaces

gently touching

things

I had

almost

forgotten.

But not

yet.

It is comforting

to find

old friends.

You,

and you,

and even

you.

We must stay in

touch,

I say

to the past.

But

some doors

are

locked.

In dark corners

where the

light

does not

quite

reach.

And try as I might

when I stand before them

trembling key in

hand

I cannot enter.

I cannot enter

though

I must.

There is

work

to be done

within,

but not

yet.

And so,

instead

I sit before them

quietly

weeping

ink

onto paper.

Until.

— The places I cannot go, yet.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

On how to live.

Do not think it

a small thing

to be

alive

today.

Go

and

squander

it,

foolishly

if you must,

on the sun

and

the trees

and

the rain

if you

might be that

fortunate

to have

freedom

in your body

and

your mind.

But do not

curl inward

to die

long

before

the music

stops.

Live

sumptuously,

feasting

on the sound of the wind

susurrating

through the trees.

Soak

up the

rich

death of

Autumn leaves

until

you glow

with a life

lived bravely

and

it is time to

sigh

your

farewell.

But not

until.

Not until.

—On how to live.

© Liezel Graham 2018.