Anna, means grace. (It’s time to say goodbye).

I lit a candle for you, today.

Only one. If you live right, one light is enough.

Every time the tiny flame sputtered and died, I lit another. It still burns, even now, as I write with the sun almost at your door, and the moon, at mine.

The candle’s light kept me company as I peeled carrots for lunch—I know you’d appreciate that—the spirit keeping vigil whilst the hands are busy with the ordinary task of preparing food for a child. You were always so good at that. Filling tummies and hearts.

Remember how you showed me how to peel a potato so that the peel was almost as thin as tissue paper? Your face a study of quiet pride as your knotted fingers struggled not to yield to arthritis. I remember.

And how you used to walk with me to the other side of town, whenever I came to visit in the school holidays, just so that I could see the museum for the hundredth time. If you only knew the joy that gave me. The escape from the agony that was school. Of not fitting in no matter how hard I tried. Although, I think you do. You, were always my safe place. I remember.

And how you used to lift me out of that ancient cast-iron bath? The water never stayed warm in it. The blazing heat from the gas-heater warmed that small bathroom and small children too, on those icy nights.

Now, the flesh has faded from your bones and you are the one needing strong arms to hold you up and Winter has come, once again.

And I am not sure my heart can ever be warmed up again.

The years have been kind to you. But, time? Time, has been cruel. It has taken so many people that you have loved. And how you loved! I hope that they are all there, waiting for you when you walk through that door.

I hope.

Do you remember how I loved to play in the shade of the old Cape Rough-skin Lemon tree outside your kitchen door? How I loved that tree. And those lemons. And nobody could make lemon curd like you could. If I close my eyes, just like this, I can taste the sweet tartness on my tongue.

And when you were the first to look cancer in the eye and I gave you a card that said ‘Don’t give up’. As if you would.

And then, when it was my turn to face a doctor’s words, you gave it back to me. ‘Don’t give up’, you said.

As if I would. With your stubborn Irish genes in my DNA.

And now, here I am. On the other side of the world. I picked up my roots like a skirt and stepped gingerly onto another continent. Home, but not quite. I wonder if the women in my bones remember that their blood was once a part of this land. Do they remember me?

I am home, but not quite. Just like you.

And as I give my son his lunch, I teach him about nouns and how they name things, like ‘Ouma’.

We haven’t talked about adjectives yet, but I have so many that walk hand-in-hand with you, my Ouma.

Strong. Brave. Gracious. Wise. Loving. Loyal. Courageous. Faithful. Funny. Beautiful. Kind. Hopeful.

Soon, you will leave this place. It’s ok. I know that you’re tired. It’s been a long, hard season for you, and they are waiting.

They’re all there waiting for you. And I hope that there is a lemon tree. And new, strong bones and blue eyes, bright with new life.

And I shall be ok. It will hurt like hell. I cannot lie. It will be a searing pain that will leave a mark, but I shall be ok.

You know that.

I lit a candle for you, today.

It still burns as I wait.

The moon is here with me and so is the light.

…and I shall wait.

It’s ok, now. You can take off this life. It’s a bit frayed around the edges. You’ve worn it well.

But it’s time to go home, soon.

It’s ok.

I’ll see you on the other side.

— Anna, means grace. (It’s time to say goodbye).

© Liezel Graham 2019.

two sparrows’ worth.

do you remember

that dream?

.

the one that you held so

. tenderly

in your hands.

.

for a long while

you looked at it every day.

. breathing life into it

as often as you could.

.

until,

it got too hard

. to hope

for more.

.

and so,

after a while

you folded it up

. neatly.

like something no longer needed.

.

. but that’s not true.

is it?

.

i know.

.

it might be a bit dusty now.

. forgotten things often are.

.

and

. fuzzy

and

. frayed

around the edges.

.

that book you were going to write.

. remember?

.

that trip,

to see how the light

caresses the lavender fields of

. provence.

.

the marriage,

that has

slowly

stopped

breathing.

.

that house,

with a garden

big enough for children to build dreams in.

.

the

baby,

that you hear

when it’s still, at night.

. not yet there.

perhaps the time was never

. right.

or so you told

your broken heart

with the red moon

of

each

new month.

.

until,

it was safer to put it away.

.

it’s ok.

.

i know that, too.

.

but,

let me tell you

. dust,

is no match for courage.

.

and that’s all you need, really.

. two sparrows’ worth

of wild courage.

.

and

if standing in front

of

that

locked door,

feels hopeless?

. i’ve heard it said that

even if you’re down to your last coin.

.

. especially,

if you are down

to

your

very last coin.

.

. the last

of what you have to give,

often opens heaven’s door.

.

but you have to try.

. there’s no giving up.

.

so, go on, up you get!

.

listen.

do you hear that?

the rain is falling

. softly.

and you,

have some dusting to do.

.

—two sparrows’ worth.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

Photograph by Ricardo Esquivel.

every woman who heals herself.

Recently, one of my micro-poems was given new life by the wonderfully talented artist and illustrator, Kimothy Joy.

The image has been flying around social media and I am both pleased and humbled by this.

Here’s to healing — men and women, so that we don’t pass on unresolved hurt and pain to our children and through them, our children’s children.

on the inside (i am outside).

i wish that i could say

that i have

all the answers.

.

or perhaps,

. just a few.

that would be good.

.

that i have

. somehow,

grown fat with wisdom.

.

i have neither.

.

. all i have in my hands

are words.

.

. and none of them are smooth.

.

they are hungry words

that know how to search

when the lights have gone out.

.

they are strong words

that know how to break down walls,

one stone at a time.

.

they are brave words

that know how to open windows,

when all the doors are locked.

.

they are tender words

that know how to soothe what is broken,

because they remember.

.

. because,

i remember

. what it is to need water

and hope.

.

and i have

somehow

stumbled right into the middle of my life

still carrying a bag of questions.

.

. rebellious ones at that.

or, so i have been told.

.

not fit for one who stands in the shadow of the cross.

.

. my coat,

is too bright

or too faded

or too there-is-something-not-quite-right

and

we can see right through that cloak

and

she does not fit in,

. here on holy ground.

.

i know.

. i know.

.

but i can pour shame

onto paper

in

the

shape

of grace.

.

and i can string words into lights

that stubbornly lead the way out.

or up,

. if you believe.

.

and

this relentless unmasking

of flesh

and

bone

and

heart

and

soul

into words,

. is all that i have been given

in exchange

for

all

that has been taken.

.

and still

it is not enough?

.

.

—on the inside (i am outside).

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

on letting go of what is gone.

the silver birch

and

the oak,

called me into the woods

today.

.

.

i carried with me

all the things

that i have ever lost

.

. and never let go of.

.

.

and the weight of it all

was counted

in fear.

.

.

and

i sat beneath

the bare arms of the birch, reaching up.

.

.

. always up,

despite her season

of nakedness

and loss.

.

.

and we sang a lament

together.

. an ancient song

of letting go.

.

.

and it was hard.

.

.

loss,

can scrape the joy

right

out

of your bones.

.

.

and that,

which i never wanted to give up,

.

.

brought life,

. in the end,

like

. dead leaves

on the woodland floor.

.

.

and the silver birch

and

the oak,

sent their roots down,

.

.

deep

. deep,

down

into

the earth,

.

.

and asked for more.

—on letting go of what is gone.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

.

Photograph by Skitterphoto.com

a new year’s song.

the year is dying in my hands

and

. i am filling my apron

with a feather

. for hope,

and

tiny bits of tumbled sea glass

. for courage.

.

.

when the waters rise,

. they will not wash over me.

.

.

a pinch of faith,

. you only need a little,

and

a quilt of mercy

to warm my heart

.

that

at

times

has

loved

so coldly.

.

. i will guard the spring.

.

guard it fiercely,

so that only

love

will

flow,

. but i know

that i am cut from rough cloth

and

grace

is the bread that keeps me alive,

.

and you.

.

so

i will give

. and give

. and give,

until

we cannot see

who we once were,

. for all the love.

.

that,

is how they will recognise us.

.

.

the broken ones.

.

not the knowledge.

not the perfection.

not the raised eyebrow,

.

but

the

love.

.

it’s how i recognised you,

when

all

i had known was failure.

.

you loved me first,

and

never

stopped.

.

and i will not worry about

my hips

or

my wrinkles

or

my yesterdays

or

my tomorrows.

.

i am held.

.

and because i am the one,

.

that

one,

.

who deserves an entire parable.

. yes.

.

the one

who wanders

and

strays .

into thickets

. and

thorns,

where others see the danger,

i will remember that i was searched for

. over and over,

every time

and

i too will

. search

when others get lost.

.

i will not be the pointing finger,

but

the open hand that says,

. here i am.

.

let me be

a light in a glass jar,

. shining

in spite of it all.

.

.

—a new year’s song.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by Martí Pardo.

.

.

Friends,

.

.

I wish you a peaceful, spacious

new year.

.

.

Know that you are held

and that though they may rise,

the waters will not wash over you,

.

.

liezel