you can make anything from ashes. even beauty.

so, your heart is broken

and pain has leached the sunlight from your bones.

what will you do with this gift?

— you can make anything from ashes. even beauty.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

Photography by Annie Spratt.

Yesterday, I shared this poem with a friend whose heart needed a bit of hope, that even the hard things, no—especially the hard things, often lead to wondrous things.

…and that pain, if held onto loosely, can be the substance of beauty.

liezel

{this poem will be in ‘a counting of love’}.

the sweetness of simple things, hard won.

I am watching my son, eleven-and-a-bit years, eat his lunch.

He has the same meal every day—oven chips, carrot and chicken. He takes comfort in the familiar—needs it, like he needs oxygen.

He is using both a fork and a knife.

More than that—he is using ordinary cutlery. He no longer needs specially shaped knives, forks and spoons that are shaped to make it easier to lift food from plate to mouth.

Just beautifully ordinary cutlery.

Taken from the cutlery drawer without a thought and slipped quietly next to plates and bowls.

He still won’t touch food with his bare hands, but this? This one we’ve conquered—the sweet result of years and years of working intensely on a simple skill.

My son is autistic. He also has dyspraxia. Simple instructions such as co-ordinating a knife and a fork at the same time, get lost in the conflicting messages between his neurological system and his muscles.

At least, it used to. Forks and knives and hands and mouth, now listen to his brain.

Dyspraxia impacts his life in hundreds of ways, but we have worked so hard.

Every day.

Giving up, has never been an option.

We don’t know the meaning of those words.

There have been lots of tears.

Mine and his, and we are intimately familiar with frustration.

But give up?

Never.

So, here we are, the two of us, on a quiet Thursday afternoon. It is raining outside, I am having a cup of tea and I am watching my boy eat his lunch with a knife and a fork, and it is an utterly beautiful thing.

— the sweetness of simple things, hard won.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph William Rouse.

A little glimpse into life in my home and the sweetness of simple things that are hard won.

liezel

on manuscripts and love.

The behind-the-scenes glamour of a book being born.

It’s cold and blowing a hooley out there. In other words it’s the perfect weather for sitting snugly underneath a duvet and deciding which poems go where in manuscript number 2.

Also the perfect excuse to drink copious amounts of hazelnut flavoured coffee.

Now you know some of my deep, writerly secrets and it pretty much boils down to good coffee, and lots of it too!

A Counting of Love, is a beautiful collection of poems and prose poems about love and how it is the golden thread in our lives.

Old love, new love, love as it ends, love as it begins, sacred love, love for our children… love as the glue that holds us together, always.

x

ee cummings at midnight.

i am eve

paradise has found me

after midnight

in the unlined hours

of this day

consumed

by words

i am

consumed

falling

into

my

hands

there are poems

here

that breathe

that have

secrets

i hold them

a little bit longer

than i should

they are the soft skin

of my grandmother’s hands

they are

the happy sitting

around a christmas table

before we splintered

i hold

all of this

sweet fat

that fills

dripping down my chin

into the hollow

of my collar bones

i keep all my secrets

there

it satisfies

i am

for a moment

full

yet

it leaves me

empty

again

and

hungry

for

more

is what i crave

haven’t i always been

chasing glorious things

wildly

i wonder how

there are people

bored

with life

when there is so much to eat

on this page.

— ee cummings at midnight.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Zoltan Tasi.

A poem about losing yourself in the words of a poet in a darkly, quiet house, when all you hear is silence and all your hunger is filled with the richness of another’s words.

liezel

in finding the ones who will hold your heart.

look for the ones who lean into your story.

the ones who don’t shrink back from your pain.

the ones who can hear what you are not saying.

these, are your people.

love them fiercely.

— on finding the ones who will hold your heart.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph source Pixabay.

{a repost from a year ago}

swimming in deep water.

at the leisure centre

through the revolving doors

i walk

i wear my favourite jeans

the ones that lift

and support

there are parts of me

that need help

staying up

even after all these years of

strong

i come from a place only i know the scent of

i strip away

my coat

my shoes

i am on holy ground

a rain damp hat

knickers

too

everything that hides

me from the truth

of other bodies

them from me

me from you

i walk on feet

afraid

naked

almost

still

our eyes find each other

in all this wetness

and

we talk

we are strangers

in this great daring thing

together

we throw words to each other

like bright balls

catch and throw

catch and throw

your turn now

now my go

can i show

you

a little bit more of

me

when last has a stranger seen

the pale

of my skin

the dimples on my thighs

that grew with my pregnant

belly

but never left

twelve winters my hands have

felt them every night

just before i yield

reproving

as if my whole life is held

hostage

by the plumpness of my legs

that have carried me

bravely

through doors

and

far away from war

when we have finally shown

each other

enough

we undo the babysoft skin

of our courage

and

leave

revolving outward

into winter

later

quite by chance

we see each other in the

bread aisle

fingers carefully looking for

something sweet

our eyes do not meet

for more than

a second

they can’t

we are wearing far too many layers now.

— swimming in deep water.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Stefano Zocca.