the secret life of things

at the bottom of the field which held my father’s crops,

the bees lived.

hives of faded wood hugged the river, owned the sun.

secret things happened here.

when the frames were full,
oozing,

he would harvest the warmth of summer.

forearms straining under the weight of a chipped enamel basin full of a season,

he would leave it on the kitchen table.

evidence

that hidden things eventually find their way to the light.

wax shaped, moulded into tight pieces,

stuffed into the furthest corners of my mouth,

honey filling the cracks of a childhood, dripping

from my lips.

evidence

that there was sweetness, too.

— the secret life of things.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Damien Tupinier.
{Unsplash}.

Today, is World Bee Day.

I remember the white wooden
hives at the bottom of our field.

I remember the chipped enamel basin full of summer’s sweetness.

liezel

Image by Damien Tupinier.
Unsplash.

womb | words with elizabeth

she tells me how she knocks on doors,
hungry
for a thing that she cannot
name,

only knows that it is familiar,
has

covered her with shame,

this fetal need, this

hand-me-down pain
from all the women before,

and

that it never leaves.

quietly gnaws its way
through her, and that

a mother is not formed
by labour, by

spilling blood, by

emptying.

sometimes there is no room
inside for anyone else, long
after

the cord is cut, the joy
grown old.

and

standing there,
nine years old, she is (still)

hoping for a place at the table, but

no,
like before.
and
like before,
no.

still,
she hopes,

never gives up.

what does that even mean,
she says.

give
up.

she has wrapped herself
in steelwool, pulls it

over her shoulders

every day
for all the moments that run

into a life, but

at night
she sheds it, knows

in the dark, in the quiet

she must soften
and
breathe, or

else, she will walk
with the same limp, hold

the same barbed wire
in her mouth.

she hopes, she says

that it is ok to feel this as loss,

that it is ok to mourn
every empty
plate

that was ever put before her.

knows, she was made for love.

made to be filled with it,
brimming over
until she groans with laughter

and

the fullness of it, sticking
to her heart, sticking
to her ribs,

all the roundness of it,
milk
in her veins, she has

tasted it once, maybe
twice before.

she remembers.

she was made for all of this.

knows,

she is allowed to hold out her hands,

cupped
with thirst,

cupped
with hunger.

made for eating love.

nothing else.

knows,

there is a womb with her name on it, but it is not here.

— womb | words with elizabeth.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Serafima Lazarenko.
{Unsplash}.

i will find you where the two paths meet in the woods.

i hope that you give yourself permission to become who you want to be.

i hope that you learn to discern whose voice you are speaking with, especially if it says things to you that are unkind.

unloving.

untrue.

if it forces you back, holds you down, keeps you hungry…

…and you know exactly what i mean, don’t you?

one of the hardest parts of healing the hurt child within you, is learning how to say ‘no’.

…learning to disagree with the lies that speak with the same voice as your father, or your mother, your grandfather, or your grandmother, because here’s the truth—if they never learned how to soften, how to speak truth to themselves?

then their pain, is also your pain.

and your scars might look different, but hurt goes by many names.

and you might disagree, this is ok, but healing doesn’t look for blame, only.

healing doesn’t look for forgiveness, only.

healing looks for the truth.

searches for it with light in her fingers and when she finds it, she sees the thread that runs all the way back, because your pain is connected to every mother and every father that didn’t know how to heal themselves.

and if the voices who held you and shaped you into the heart that you are today, left only kindness in your bones, then breathe a deep sigh of thanks.

you are a field of quiet strength.

but not everyone has been given this gift and unlearning is a fierce rebellion and it goes by many names and none of them will call to you.

and it might be hard to understand sometimes, hard to see someone you love get up and fall.

get up.
fall.

over and over again.

they are learning how to use their legs.

learning how to stand.

learning how to walk away.

and we who are learning how to say ‘no’, need you for your ‘yes’—need you for the gentleness that you know
how to own.

please be patient with us.

perhaps we will find each other further along the road where the two paths meet in the wood and we will tell you how we climbed a mountain and you—you will show us the blue sky that you have behind your eyes, the green of the meadow underneath our feet.

we are undoing.

please, wait for us.

— i will find you where the two paths meet in the woods.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Jens Lelie.
Unsplash.

for those who are learning how to say ‘no’ and for those who love them through that journey as they climb that mountain.

liezel

your drought is almost over.

how many years have you spent pulling on clothes that do not fit—forcing on shoes that pinch and make you fall over your own feet?

how many different hats have you worn and each one more wrong than the other?

how long have you wandered from room to room searching for your own breath?

your fingers in the holes in the walls and all you want is earth under your feet, wide open sky above your head, soft rain to ease the drought in your heart, to hear each blade of grass as it moves in the breeze—some holy books call it a spacious place—you call it home.

and you have seen it behind your eyes just before you fall asleep, and the birds that sing in that garden wake you, just before you open your eyes every morning.

and you know it’s there.
somewhere.

and perhaps you thought it was tied to a promise, but see here’s the thing, sometimes things break and even words don’t hold their weight and it is difficult for me to say this, because of how much i love words.

but words break too, even ones given as a gift.

anything can break, can fracture, a hairline crack at first and then a slow end into i-cannot-go-back and inbetween being the glue that holds others together, and not remembering the sound of your own name, you wake up one morning and your hands are empty and the first thing you want to do, is ball your fists, curl yourself up from the hunger that has eaten its way through your bones, and all the things that you have used to fill that ache, no longer work, because you have been a cardboard cutout—a paper doll dressed up by the hands of others and you have called this ‘a life’ and sometimes even, ‘my life’, thinking that if you could only possess it with a small pronoun, then it would be ok, be enough, but it isn’t.

is it?

and you see others, carrying their lives in their arms and they seem happy with the weight of what they have been given, so why can’t you be the same—wear the same shade of happiness on your lips every morning?

and in your dreams the moon has called you, wooed you with a song that somewhere deep inside of you, you can still remember from lifetimes ago, and now?

now you find yourself standing outside the lines, knees scuffed from climbing outside the box, wrists bruised from breaking the ropes that held you to the life that belonged to your father and your mother and your father’s father and your mother’s mother and all of those who lived their lives before you, and maybe even with you, but see?

this is the secret—their life was never your life to live, even if they said so and there are many ‘theys’ in your life and sometimes the bravest thing you can do, is to turn your back on a hand-me-down-life and leave it behind.

and you have lived a hungry life trying to make sure that your colours don’t bleed all over other people, so thoughtful you have been.

and now?

now you are on the other side of the fence.
finally.

but you are all alone.

and you are scared.

where to now?
where is home?
where do you belong?
perhaps that two-sizes-too-small-coat wasn’t so bad after all?
you could live smaller—lose the weight of your dreams and then perhaps you will fit into
that life?

no. no. no.
don’t you dare!

let those questions come.

you can’t leave without a hundred hungry questions following you, anyway.

it’s ok.
there are answers for most of them.
the others will die from lack of fear.

eventually.

but until then, this is what you do—you breathe… breathe free for the first time and call it what it is—you are on your own, but you are not alone!

open your hands.
uncurl your fingers.
you cannot receive anything if your hands are full of fear.

breathe.

see the wide open sky above your head?
it is all yours.
see the clouds building up in the east?
smell the dampness in the air.
your drought is almost over.

and there’s more.
so much more.

take off that coat, that dress, shapewear?
what on earth for?
you have always been the perfect shape!
no more of this… that hat? those shoes?

kick them off.
throw them away.

feel the air on your face and look! see how your skin fits perfectly… stretched just right over your bones, and this is what you have wanted—hungered for, isn’t it?

this freedom to be what they told you, you couldn’t.

naked.
enough.

here you are.

you’ve come this far and i know that it’s scary—terrifying really, but you can’t turn back now, not again.

open your eyes.
look up.
breathe.
hold out your hands.

the rain is coming.

— your drought is almost over.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Kourosh Qaffari

read them in the night, or in the early morning just before light breaks over your fear.

i hope that they help.

liezel

it is ok if you fall | to forgive yourself.

this is the day after the one
in which i stumbled
over my own
life,

broke myself
with my own hands.

today,

i shake off my feathers,
step into the light,
try again.

— it is ok if you fall | to forgive yourself.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Pelle Asplund.
Unsplash.

For you who fell hard over your own life, found yourself face-to-face with old enemies that know you by name, losing a battle you thought you’d never have to fight again.

You might be broken.
You will heal, again.
You might feel like a failure.
You are not your failures.
You might feel like giving up.
Please, please don’t.

Here’s some truth…

You get to try again.

x

Image by Pelle Asplund.

a blessing for mother’s day.

may you find love.
enough to fill any holes.

may you find healing.
enough to cover any wounds.

may you find hope.
enough to keep your dream alive.

may everything that was taken from you, return to you as joy.

may all your failures grow into
courage.

may you find yourself brave enough to try again, and again, and again.

may you find a soft place to rest,
where you can take off everything that is not yours to carry, and

may you always be found by the light, no matter where you are.

— a blessing for mother’s day.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Kirill Pershin.
{Unsplash}.

Today is Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland.

For many women it is a happy day where they are celebrated and loved that wee bit extra.

Happy Mother’s Day to you!

…but, if your arms are empty, or if your womb and your heart has only known loss, if you are grieving a child, grieving a mother, grieving any woman who has loved you like a mother, if you are a mum who has fallen again, and again—who knows bitter disappointment, shame and failure as friends, then I send you love today.

For the fathers who have to be mothers, too—you are doing just fine.

For the grannies, that are mums again, for the stepmums who have had to step into new shoes—you are doing just fine.

May you be found by everything that you need.

You are so loved.

liezel