my granny’s arms were soft and strong.

on the floor of my grandmother’s bathroom, there is a heater spitting blue gas flames into the damp air.

i am about three years old.

i am not afraid of winter howling outside, trying to claw its wet way in through warped window frames.

not yet.

my granny lifts me from the warm, fragrant water onto the cold edge of the roll top bath.

‘careful, ouma’s got you’.

small feet happily balanced, i am taller than her for a moment—my favourite part—my arms find the papery curve of her neck. i cling to her; my face inches away from all the softness that walks out of her mouth whenever she says my name.

she covers me in baby powder from my toes to my head—a grandmother’s talisman.

years later, whenever i am asked to describe my favourite smell, i say ‘baby powder and the smell of rain’.

in that small bathroom, her arms are still firm and strong, and i am still able to trust being lifted up and held safe.

— my granny’s arms were soft and strong | i was held.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Siddarth Bhogra.

may all your days be honest, and may you be honest about all your days.

i have carried a young poem

in my hands for days

now, but

in this year

where i have had to

strike rocks in the desert

just to taste a drop of water,

i have nothing left to make it

holy,

these words in my cupped hands.

nothing to dress it up with.

somewhere

between march

and

september,

i ran out of gold,

frankinscense

and

myrrh.

but still,

this poem wants life,

wants to bring red velvet hope

where there is straw, and

a friend said

to me,

as i undressed my heart,

have a gentle christmas,

and

may it be honest.

so i am holding this up,

instead.

this word.

honest.

lifting it high above my life tonight,

like a star.

a compass.

not merry.

not bright.

but a light,

nonetheless.

— may all your days be honest, and may you be honest about all your days.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Annie Spratt.

sharing a little freeform writing with you on this eve before christmas.

if this year was hard for you—mine has been—losing both my gran and my brother in the space of a couple of months, knocked the wind right out of me, and if you are missing the breath of people you love, if you have lost a part of yourself, or if you have no idea how tomorrow, or next year will look…

then i wish you a gentle, honest christmas.

it doesn’t have to be merry.

it doesn’t have to be bright.

may all your days be honest, and may you be honest about all your days.

know that you are loved,

liezel

my deepest thanks to my beautiful friend, Lisa, for giving me the gift of an honest christmas.

it’s ok, you can let go now.

how to heal a broken heart?

you must love again

something

someone

get up

dry your eyes

dust yourself off

loss, is just a season’s weight

not a calling until death

you were not born

to exist

on crumbs

now go!

someone out there

is searching

for you.

— it’s ok, you can let go now.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Liezel Graham

if this is for you, may your heart find all the courage it needs to love again.

it’s ok, you can let go now.

liezel

a series of micropoems dealing with childhood trauma.

I have been working on a collection of micro poems that focus on the effects of (unhealed) childhood trauma, and disordered/chaotic relationships with primary caregivers on a child, and how they might affect the adult later on, and the way that these early traumas might then cause them to relate to relationships, love, (potential) addictions, their ability to handle conflict, and how they might as adults with deep emotional scars, negotiate their place in the world.

As always my poems are written partly from a personal place, and partly from my professional experience in mental health.

There is no right or wrong to my words, other than personal truth based on introspection, however there is nothing new under the sun and if you should find yourself in my description, please do look out for my posts in the next couple of days.

They be will short, sharp and sometimes bittersweet, but always I hope, a springboard for deeper reflection and healing.

Perhaps we can find some healing together,

liezel

Photography by Lisa Fotios.

scope

we sit on opposite sides of the waiting room

clutching our middle years

in our hands,

strangers

comparing stories of raising boys

they never seem to stop eating

do they,

from the minute they leave our bodies

so much life fills their skin.

we have given them everything that we have and more, and

perhaps because we are a hospital gown away

from being completely naked with each other,

we also speak

quietly

of the things that they might find

hiding

within our walls, and

how we hope

that they

don’t,

because we have sons to feed, and

we are hungry

to be

in their lives, and

we smile and we laugh

a little

in the shadow of the thing

that has a name

but doesn’t have ours,

yet

we hope

like all the women before us,

we walk barefoot here

in the valley, and

we all lose our shoes when we walk this road,

it doesn’t matter what your name is,

here

in this place,

we all fear the same, and

we follow the nurse to the room where they will tell us

our future

for a moment

you turn away

and i see it in your eyes.

later when i walk out of recovery

orange juice still sweet on my tongue,

i carry words in my hands

that breathe,

words that do not chase

me

yet

you are in the cubicle next to me

the borders that i have just left

behind

i never want to return to this place, and

i see you

curled up

into the shape of a foetus,

asleep

under the weight of the extra peace they pumped into your veins,

statistics say that it had to be one of us

the odds took more from you

than from me, and

i hope that you find the courage to chase away the

dogs of fear.

— scope.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

recently i had my ‘future’ told by a medical team.

i was the fortunate one who walked out with hope in my hands.

xx

Photograph by Leo Cardelli.