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.

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 love like a moon.

all day long

we share our space

with each other.

my son and i.

we’ve done this before.

my belly full and round.

a moon

hung low in the winter sky.

at night,

he wriggles his way down

to the bottom of his bed.

the curtains across the window drawn open,

so that he can trace the stars

in the ink-black sky

as he falls asleep.

every morning he wakes,

hair tousled, cheeks pink

and sleep soft.

his head

where his feet should be.

feet,

where his head should be.

he has never cared much for

doing things the

proper way.

i gave him this gift.

at breakfast,

he tells me stories about how

the moon orbits the earth,

always showing the same side.

the same love.

no matter what,

she does not change.

following the same path,

she returns to her

beginning.

just like me.

and right there,

covered in toast crumbs

and the last of the chocolate milk,

happiness falls from his mouth

like light.

— on love like a moon | where i began.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Ganapathy Kumar.

unwrapped.

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

later.

— 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.

liezel

how many ways are there to love?

i slice perfect circles every day

for years

the shape is important

it keeps your world

safe

carrots for your lunch, and

a yellow apple

the sweetness

for after

always the same

they said this would be hard

on my heart, but

here we are

you and i so far up this mountain

that i cannot hear their voices anymore

they didn’t tell me that love

would fall from my hands

at lunchtime,

without carrying a single word.

— how many ways are there to love?

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Monicore.

my son eats a handful of foods.

the same ones for years, now.

this is not uncommon in #autism.

initially—in the very early years, just after diagnosis, this scared me.

now, it is who he is.

we have our own language of love.

words are superfluous.

x

i have made beauty from everything they said was broken.

when i was in labour with you,

all

those

hungry

years of waiting,

the anaesthetist ran his hands gently down my spine.

his voice running over my pain like water,

has anyone ever told you that you have scoliosis?

yes, i nodded, right in the middle of a contraction that felt like it could force continents apart.

a woman knows when she is held up by imperfection.

is that why it hurts so much?

a murmur—yes—a stranger’s fingers moving up and down my vertebrae;

an attempt to tame the thing that was wild within my bones, right from the start, and

later, when the light broke hot pink and wild orange, all over our new life, you were a soft weight on my chest, and i was learning how to keep you alive with all the broken pieces that i had, and

all i could smell was heaven.

it was there in your hair, and in your cries, and the way that your fingers curled around mine, and

how could something like this, ever have been made in the dark?

all this beauty that was built, in spite of a foundation that is still tilted

rebelliously.

— i have made beauty from everything they said was broken.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Dominika Roseclay.

my words are always making poems.

the poet fears the loss of words to rearrange on paper, and

there are many places in the heart that a drought can happen, but

last night i told my son a story before sleep claimed him from me,

and he laughed,

and laughed.

his mouth a happy moon in a dark night, and

this morning my words carried the sun on their shoulders as they left my mouth to call him back, and

he heard, and smiled in his sleep.

that is how far they can travel when they do not need my

permission.

the poet fears the loss of words that will obey her on paper, but

see how many quiet ones slip out when she is not looking, but

they will not be shaped into poems where they do not want to live.

no.

some words are made to fall all over sleep-soft skin.

they are made entirely of love.

— my words are always making poems.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Magda Ehlers.