real love gets everywhere.

there you are!

i have been searching all over for you!

where have you been, and why is your heart in pieces on the floor?

all the edges sharp and hungry.

there is a lazy, late afternoon sun outside, and listen—a little boy is laughing, riding his bicycle in happy circles freedom at last!

and if you look up, you will see that the sky is porcelain blue—the exact shade of joy, and a
blackbird is singing in the wildest corner of the garden, but here you are—away from it all trying to find the numbers on the broken pieces that make up all that you are.

how to put yourself back together again—that’s what you want to know, isn’t it?

so tell me—is this really about love?

and did you finally allow yourself to fall back into someone’s heart?

how terrifyingly beautiful!

and yes, i see what’s happened.

you kicked off your shoes, and dipped your toes into the cool of the water pooling unexpectedly on the hidden side of your life—the part that you had completely forgotten about, until you stumbled upon it early one evening, just after you knew your old life wasn’t breathing anymore, and then—there it was—a little pond in the middle of your nowhere.

a secret place.

nobody could find you there and and it was a place where you could heal—could show your real skin and speak with your very first voice, the one from when you were still real, and it was good.

and that little pond was full of all the things you hadn’t seen in such a long time and your skin needed to feel that coolness too, that thing that you were too scared to crave, but you were desperate for, weren’t you, and so you threw it off—all the caution you had hanging around your neck in the shape of a key, and that key was so good at keeping things locked, but it was so heavy with fear and disappointment, wasn’t it?

and so you did a big, brave thing and you threw it all to the wind as a gift, and you stepped into love.

but here’s the thing, beautiful one, you love with a heart that remembers things, and you don’t know how to let this new love hold you close without feeling afraid.

that you are not enough.
that you are too much.

that another will come along
and shine brighter than you.

i know what that feels like, and it’s hard to find the right words
to put into your lover’s hands—to explain why you want to run away.

want to hide, before they might, just perhaps in the right light, see that you are not who they want.

and you have been there before, haven’t you?

and you know better than most, that words need to be undressed—completely naked, so that they can talk with their own voice and that is a terrifying thing, isn’t it?

because not everybody likes naked words, some people only know how to run from them.

and in trying to find those words, and in trying to listen to the quiet voice of all the women within you—somehow you don’t know what you are hearing—is it the old ripples of your once-broken heart, or the truth from a thousand women before you, saying ‘please, please be careful…tread lightly’.

and now you don’t know what to do, because you want to be loved and oh, how you want to love, but you don’t know how to put trust together into its proper shape with only the bits of string and the six rusty nails that you have inherited.

i don’t know what to say to you.

for once i have no advice, no words to rub into your fear, other than, ‘give it time’.

your heart will know soon enough—trust its wisdom.

and if it is love—real, live, breathing, hoping, holding, protecting, respecting, carrying, choosing-only-you-over-and-over-love, then your pieces will find their way back carried by another’s hands—if it is love, then this is what will happen.

so here, let’s have some tea together, sweet and strong and in the best cups.

sit here with me—see how the light falls onto the floor and finds its way into the cracks?

it’s like liquid gold.

it gets everywhere.

you can’t stop it if you tried.

if it’s love—real love—that’s precisely what will happen.

to you.
to them.

all the cracks—yours and theirs, will be filled to the brim with each other’s light.

and it will fall from your face and your eyes and your mouth and your words will be birds singing in the light.

you will see.

if it’s love, you can’t stop it even if you tried.

— real love gets everwhere.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Olga Serjantu.

this is for you if your heart remembers how things hurt before and you are standing with your feet in new love, but you are afraid.

this is for you if you don’t know how to trust because you can still feel those old ripples from the other times when you went in too deep and nearly drowned.

this is for you if you are not sure whether what you are hearing is the shadow of your old fears, or the old wisdom of your intuition.

if it’s love it will fill up all the cracks, just like late afternoon light on an old wooden floor, and you won’t be able to stop it even if you tried.


this is how i fight.

i light two candles,

place them on the windowsill
in my kitchen, next to the begonia blooming orange

it doesn’t know there is chaos
out there, somewhere.

everywhere. all day,

but especially the night

when day has drawn
her blackout blind and i am suddenly
without crumbs in the forest,

they burn,

reflecting all my faces
back at me.

flickering smallness

to lead me back
from all the dark places
my head wants to go.

listening to the news,

i drink my morning tea
from a delicate, china cup

my best teapot and cake,

on a tray.

this is how i fight, my hands

full of beauty,

i stand.


my eyes held by the light.

— this is how i fight.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Charleigh Clarke.

my mouth can change the world.

if every peach skinned morning,

just as the new light holies me,

i decide

to keep all my words skin soft
and warm.

a prayer, perhaps

if you believe.

but, also if you don’t.

it works either way.
just like love.

i might remember this,

that i have so much kindness
in my mouth, but

there are days it doesn’t get used at all

and heaven sits on my shoulder all day,

a sparrow,

waiting to be set free.

— my mouth can change the world.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by James Hammond.

ee cummings at midnight.

i am eve

paradise has found me

after midnight

in the unlined hours

of this day


by words

i am






there are poems


that breathe

that have


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


it satisfies

i am

for a moment



it leaves me







is what i crave

haven’t i always been

chasing glorious things


i wonder how

there are people


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.



i made you a gift

with my own hands, and

from all the parts of me

that have

no name

but they live in the dark places

where love grows, and

i watched

as you held it in your hands

for a moment

i was still

and then you put it down

on the table

with the empty coffee mugs

and yesterday’s news, and

i hope that you will find it there

when you look for it


— unwrapped.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Annie Spratt.

…let’s be brave with each other,

but let’s be gentle with what we are given.

some gifts have no receipt attached.


the woman who laughed in colour.

today i saw a woman


in an orange jumper


a red floral skirt




from all the living she had already done by



brown hair unbrushed





and when she smiled at me

the soft skin around her eyes

showed me how much

she loves to laugh

in colour


at life


a history lesson in joy


and for a moment she was

the most beautiful thing that

i had ever seen, and


i wonder if she knows this

when she looks at herself

in the mirror at night.


— the woman who laughed in colour.


© Liezel Graham 2019.


Photography by Kate Kozyrka.


Today at the library I saw a woman in a wrinkled, rumpled outfit, no make-up and with her hair unbrushed and a little wild, but when she smiled at me she lit the room up, and her smile was like an explosion of colour, and I hope she knows just how beautiful she is, and how her face spoke of her love for life, and it was a pure, intoxicating thing to witness.




i would like to say that

i look for beauty


i go.

that i see it in the rebellious pout

of an old woman’s lips,

a slash of red

life owes her nothing.

has taken much

given more

she knows this truth

that it will all end at some point.

it will come to a sudden stop.




that will be me some day,

i say.

and i mean it.

and when i saw a young woman in costa,

freshly mothered

feeding her baby.

breast in tiny mouth

where everyone

could see,

but nobody was bothered

by a hunger being stilled

in their company.

such a quiet loveliness.

and that was me,

i say.

eleven winters ago,

but i had to leave the table.

my cup of hot tea.

my dignity.

to search for hidden places where the curve of my skin

as i fed my son

would not



if i could do it again

i would be


i would.

and i mean it.

and sometimes beauty

finds me first.

i do not always have to look for it.

such a quiet kindness.

dressed in old wellington boots,

she was


the mallard ducks bathed in low liquid sunlight.

casting her bread upon deep murky waters,

for the angry mute swans.

their cygnets


unlived-in feathers



that will be me some day,

i say.

and i mean it.

still finding things

that need

to be


even as they peck at my feet.

— courage.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Evie S.