womb.

i have always been

a misfit

and

a rebel,

a dweller on the fringe,

a woman who refuses

to submit, or

fit

into a box,

and

why do i always have to ask

so

many

questions, it makes you uncomfortable, and

angry,

and,

why can’t i just obey?

it is a woman’s place,

don’t you know, because

the bible tells me so, and

does He still love me,

the song says He may, but

you

say

no, and

honestly, i don’t know anymore.

and there are times,

at least 365 moments in a year, where i wonder if it would be easier

to just give in

and

be

what you want me to be, but

already i can feel the weight

on my bones, and my heart knows

that it is strong enough

to hold,

what i once thought

was truth, up to the heavens

and say,

this is not enough, and

there are people here who need to be loved, and you say

no.

but, hear me now

this is not enough.

can you hear me?

we are not being enough.

and i have examined holy words,

hoping to knit them into a blanket,

soft and big enough

to cover the naked heart

of a broken woman, but

it was too

flimsy,

and

threadbare.

and they said,

all the holy ones,

that she should be left

on the other side of the road, because her sin is too great,

and we know best.

and i said,

(but nobody cared

what I thought),

hasn’t this been done before?

in another time and place,

and didn’t someone write

it down on a scroll,

perhaps whilst eating of

the bread and the wine,

and didn’t God decide

that it was not enough?

but i am wrong, they say.

what do i know.

i am just a woman, after all

and where is my husband,

and i do not belong

to the council — that holy club,

where decisions are made

about

wombs

and

other

uncomfortable words

that walk around on two legs

in the dead of the night,

rape

and

incest, and

how they may only be managed by men,

and we must protect life, but

when there are two,

who wins?

not me.

not girls

not women,

only men, it seems.

and,

also there was that scene

a long time ago,

and,

also yesterday

and today

and tomorrow,

where a woman was caught,

and still is, every day, everywhere

red-handed in sin, and

perhaps you have heard about her?

and of course,

there must have been another,

a man,

but we don’t hear about him at all,

and

she was caught sinning.

a different sin to theirs, and

there was no love on that day,

either, only

rocks

and

laws

but Mercy was there,

quietly

sitting in the dust,

singing a love song over her,

that woman,

me.

but,

i think we don’t know

the words to that song anymore, and

all we know now

is that we are not free, and

girls will know,

and

women will know,

we are not free.

and here i sit

holding

your truth in my hands, but

it is not mine anymore,

and you are disappointed,

i know.

but i have folded it

into halves

and

again

into quarters,

in the hope

that i might make it small enough

to fit into my pocket,

so that i can take it out with me

and

shake it out on a cold night

to cover a naked woman,

or a child,

who has had everything stolen

from her,

but it is still not enough.

and i think

we are all cold, now.

— womb.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

on why i write.

all

the tears

of my

foremothers,

spill

hot

relief

onto the pages

that i write.

i weep in ink.

— on why i write.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

These last few weeks (on social media) have been really hard.

I have wanted to cut myself off.

From the anger.

From the heartache of women who remain, unbelieved.

I have, instead, decided to write even more transparently — even more bluntly, than ever before.

There are women, who share my DNA and those who are my sisters by the sharing of hearts, and wombs and fears — women not known to me, but whose stories share the same ancient refrain.

Whose voices need to be heard — need to be honoured.

This, is why I write.

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.’

The Interview.

“Right,” He said, eyes roving over her with interest, “What can you bring to the marriage?”

She looked at him as if he were the only man in the room; to her, he was the very oxygen she needed in order to survive, “I will love you with every fibre of my being. Until I die, everything that I am will be yours.”

He nodded slowly, “Right… erm, but can you iron a straight pleat in formal trousers? It’s really an essential skill in a woman, you know?”

Things we must teach our daughters.

There is a type of man

with a heart as grey,

and dreary as a damp winter’s day,

who will compel you to

dim your light;

monochrome your kaleidoscope of colours,

in order to feel like a real man.

This is not Love.

No matter how it is dressed up.

He is a fatal disease that will

consume

you

from the inside out,

until the only thing left of you is a

husk.

A ghostly imprint of the

masterpiece

you were created to be.

Run from him.

Do not look back.

You are so much more.

– Things we must teach our daughters.