on finding my place.

one starry night, the woman took a walk inside of herself to the quiet places that she loved to visit, and

there, under the karoo sun, she could play barefoot again, unworried about ice and snow and other cold things, and her young hands could tease the

hot earth for tiny fragments of blue glass hidden in the soil, and

one day i will be an archaeologist and i will dig for things — beautiful things, in the dirt, and i will have rooms full of books and i will travel the world and see pyramids and other beautiful, broken things, and we will see each other and smile — the broken things and i — and i will never have to prove that i do know things and they are all wrong about me and perhaps i will finally belong, and i wonder what that feels like, to fit snugly in a place and in a life, like your shape was made to belong, but

some don’t, do they — belong?

and some people aren’t made

to fit into round holes, because they have sharp edges and sharp corners where the loveliest things hide, but not everybody can see this and not everybody knows, and it takes a very long time for a soft, square heart to know that it is ok not to be round,

and i have been scratching in the dust for years to find hope and life and other green things, and

i have grown soft with love for myself, and i still look for fragments and other broken things in places where others see dirt, and

this is my gift — to see the loveliness in a man’s skin, and to hear africa in his voice as our children swim together, here, far from home, and to see hope in the eyes of a woman who crossed deserts and bullets

with children in tow and then

still the oceans, too — what did she know about water so deep and so fierce, other than that it was safer than the hearts from where she ran, and i look for smiles and people who walk straight into you with mouths that bow up to the light, and eyes that sparkle like glass in the sun — these are the things that i search for now, and when i find them, i turn them over, and over, in my hands and when my hunger is satisfied i hide them, deep in a corner, and oh!

you should see all the beauty that i have hidden inside here, on this side of my walls, and finally i belong.

— on finding my place.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Tim Mossholder.

christchurch.

and a morning will come where you will wake up to find that somewhere, somehow, some of us have lost the way, and heaven mourns this loss, and pain will weep all over the earth again, because hatred is nothing new and there have been hearts closed up tight against the light since time began, but you must remember, please do not forget this, that somewhere, somehow, a mother is teaching her son how to throw open the windows in his heart and a father is teaching his daughter that God is love and so are we, if we choose to be, and this is important, and people all over this world are standing up for love and crowding out the-thing-that-would-separate-us-into-boxes and even though it hurts right now and will for a very long time, in the end we will be ok if you hold my hand and i will hold yours, like a friend — i see you — and if we speak kindness over each other, like a blessing and if we hold up flags of mercy over our brothers and our sisters, and our mothers and our fathers, and ourselves, and if we remember that there is no them under heaven, just us, then we will be love and we will win.

— christchurch.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph Pixabay.

My heart goes out to the people of New Zealand today. xx

#christchurch

when she takes me back.

…and then there are days, and nights sometimes, where healing, is lying down on my yoga mat in a dark room and going back,

.

back, as far as the child within me wants to go, and i let her decide where we stop and linger for a bit. i have learned to trust her with this most important thing, and

.

sometimes we walk through my father’s vegetable garden and he is there and the sun is hot on my skin and the cicadas are shrill in the heat of the afternoon, but we are happy and content and i ask him the secret to growing strawberries that are sweet like syrup and how-do-i-know-just-when-the-corn-is-ready-to-be-picked, and show me how to read the clouds that gather over the karoo landscape, and he tells me all the hidden things a gardener needs to know, and it is like the rain that falls from a broken cloud and floods the dry earth.

.

but sometimes, we stop where words are like acid and my skin burns and my heart melts like lead over a hot flame and then it cools into a different shape, and all i can do is stand there with my hand on her shoulder — the child who i once was, and i tell her that it’s ok, it’s ok, you are going to be ok, just you wait and see.

.

…and please let these words fall off your skin, please don’t let them cling, and yes, there is pain and it is not just your heart that hurts, his does too, but he does not know how to undo the deep tracks left in those new fields, and pain that is given no name, loves to marry anger and none of this is your fault, and .

it’s ok to let the tears fall, even now, let them water your skin, and your bones, and the dry earth of your heart and it is never too late to let them come, and just you wait, you will see.

.

it will all be ok.

.

and then we come back and we hug and say goodbye, for a while, this is hard work — too hard for every day, and she leaves quietly and i get up and read bedtime stories to a heart that looks at me with love, and i get to kiss a soft boy-cheek goodnight, and somehow,

.

somehow, it is all ok, and somewhere i can hear her laugh.

.

— when she takes me back.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

Photograph Pixabay.

Generational healing.

One of the greatest gifts that you can give to all the women who came before you — your mothers, your grandmothers, your aunts and nieces and sisters all the way back through the generations, is healing.

The same applies to men, of course, but today is International Women’s Day and this is where my heart is, today.

Do everything in your power to seek healing for yourself, both physical, spiritual and psychological.

Be honest with where you are, and who you are.

Be gentle with your pain and your scars.

Trauma cannot be undone in a day, or a week or a month or a year, but you can start.

Be kind to yourself.

Be kind to the memories of those who lived before you. We can only live what we know, we can only do something if we know how, and perhaps they just didn’t know — didn’t know how to leave that abusive relationship, or how to face that addiction, or how to simply love, or perhaps, how to just keep on living.

And perhaps, and this is hard, I know, but if they are still alive, they might never learn how, or want to seek any healing for themselves.

But, you can.

You can change your future and if you ask for the way to healing, to open up before you, it will.

Of this, I am certain.

And it won’t be easy. I am pretty sure of this too.

And healing will look different for each of us. And it might never fully be here for you. You might still jump at the slightest sound and always hate surprises. I do.

You might have to find new friends because your old friends cannot accept that alcohol is no longer your ‘friend’. That is ok. Really, it is. New friends will come.

It might be a coming out to who you really are, or a going back to who you once were, before…

Chains are notoriously hard to break, but you can do it.

And it will be worth it. It will be a re-birth, an undoing of you are not and a discovering of who you are.

Keep searching for it — your beautiful heart is worth every bit.

#internationalwomensday

#generationalhealing

Photograph by Pixabay.

going home.

it has almost been a week.

almost seven days without you.

almost seven days of not being able to call you and hear you say my name.

this afternoon i lay down on the floor. wrapped in a blanket and my tears, i went home.

to you.

the garden gate still squeaks on its hinges and i stumbled on that crack in the front path.

how many times have i tripped there?

there was rain-water in the metal drum where i used to play as a child, and tadpoles. how i loved the tadpoles. do you remember?

the light on the purple jacaranda tree was full of bees.

you would like that, and the front porch was freshly polished; red and shiny.

the old front door knew my face.

knew that i too, belong, and even though i did not want them to, all the memories that are now part of my bones, came out to play. tenderly, they touched my face and my tears, or was that you?

was that you.

and you were everywhere.

down the stone stairs into the kitchen, i walked and i saw bowls of hot pea soup and my fingers frozen from a night watching shows at the fringe.

do you remember how much i loved the arts festival?

how i would spend winter nights walking through the streets, eating the colour and the sounds and the sights.

only to return to you.

my compass.

and in the back garden, the lemon tree stood there. wondering where you are.

and i said, she is here, and she is not.

and my heart does not know what to do.

can i just sit here for a little bit longer?

here, by the kitchen window where the late afternoon light likes to sneak in.

this has always been my favourite spot.

here, with you, drinking warm cups of tea, i could see forever.

and every hurt was wrapped in kitchen-love.

and it was all that i ever needed.

this rich, never-ending love.

and you are here, but you are not.

how can this be.

— going home.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

This afternoon, after a quiet, but tearful half-an-hour of meditation, I took a walk.

And somewhere between here, and not, I walked down my Ouma’s garden path and found her old house full of her and me and other lovely things that I have stored in my bones.

And it was good.

things to do when you are grieving.

on a sunny morning

in

the

middle

of my grief,

we stumble upon a new playground.

swings and roundabouts,

seesaws

and

margery-daws, and

push

me

higher

mom, and

suddenly

young laughter

making funny faces

at all of this sadness.

how beautifully life carries on.

— things to do when you are grieving.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Levi Damasceno.

musings on grief.

when you have lived your

whole life,

whole and at peace,

in one place.

does the soil remember you?

.

the old plum tree in the

back garden,

heavy with pink promise.

will she miss the sound of your voice, too?

.

and the gnarled jacaranda

on the front path,

blushing brazen purple every spring.

will she long to feel your hands

as night begins to sing?

.

and then,

there is more.

.

there is you

and

there is me

and

there is

this love.

.

this

love.

.

what about this?

i wonder,

will it remember

us?

.

—musings on grief.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

Photograph by Irina Iriser.

.

.

My Ouma lived her whole life in the same small town in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

.

She spent most of her married life and after my Oupa died, in the same house. A house that she adored.

.

There is an old plum tree that bears masses of sweet plums and a gnarled jacaranda tree that covers the front garden with a carpet of purple blossom every spring.

.

This old house and garden have been a part of my life ever since I can remember.

.

Today’s poem is more free-form musing than poetry, but I hope it speaks to someone else who might be on the same journey as me.

.

My heart is much lighter since Sunday when my Ouma left us and I have a great deal of peace,

.

liezel