when joy, was a dead bird within my chest.

i woke up

this morning

with joy, a

dead

bird

within my chest.

she just lay there.

curled up,

a weight of

dead

feathers;

throat silent.

and i wanted to

mourn her,

rail angrily against the

poisonous

seeds

that had stolen her.

cancer.

depression.

death.

fear.

anger.

loneliness.

foreignness.

distance.

and all the

dark things

that go

bump

in the night.

but my words

were

gone.

stolen.

so i sat with her,

cradled

within my hands

gently whispering

all that i had left,

i am sorry.

i am sorry.

and slowly,

the liquid morning

light

fell

just so

onto her face,

and elgar’s

enigma

covered her body

with a gentle

blanket of cello,

and the

cool

autumn breeze

from the open window

ruffled

the fine down

on her breast,

and she remembered.

all the good things,

all the beautiful things,

all the hopeful things,

as the warm tea from

faraway places

warmed her throat

until

her voice

returned.

and she shook

her feathers

and inclined

her head

as she ate

hope

amongst the thorns.

—when joy, was a dead bird within my chest.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

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

therapy.

in a field

on the farm

that i like

to walk past,

there is a tree.

once upon a time,

i am sure,

she must have stood

tall

and

proud, a

useful

tree

indeed, a

normal

tree, a

tree

that

when people

saw her

they

would say,

in their very knowledgeable

way,

for they know all about

how

to

be

a

proper

tree,

now there is a beautiful tree.

but,

not anymore.

now,

she is gnarled

and

bent

from

her

waist

down

to

the

ground.

a naked

act of worship

to the soil,

that

now holds her

grounded

in root

and

branch.

unable

to

aim

for

the light,

she

kisses

the

earth.

and people walk past her

in private conversation

with each other

and

they

do not notice

how

her

lowest

branches

have

shaped

a safe space

for

the lambs, and

how the birds still

converse

with each other

in her

misshapen

crown,

whilst

they sing

sky

songs

to

her

about

clouds

and

the sun

and what it means to

be

alive, and

not once

do they tell her

to

go

back

to

who

she

was, to

unbend herself

from her

melancholy

and

the thing that caused her

to

fold in

on herself, because

to them

she is

still

a tree.

— therapy.

© Liezel Graham 2018.