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.

how to climb out of a foxhole.

when i find myself walking on a beach again,

sand soft and ocean lapped,

i shall be brave.

braver than i have ever been.

run into the water without a thought

of how i might look

to anyone passing through

on their way home from war.

aren’t we all?

hiding from each other

in foxholes all day

in plain sight.

i shall allow my hands

the freedom to throw joy

into the foam of the green, and

i shall not use them as a holy covering for all the parts of me that are hungry

to feel cool air salted with joy, and

the ordinary blessing of water.

do i really need to earn this right?

i refuse.

pale and dimpled in secret places,

i am a velvet map

to a place called courage.

it turns out,

that despite all my hiding from others,

and me,

that i have been naked all my life,

anyway.

aren’t we all?

and i am slowly dying.

ever since my birth,

time is slowly being taken

from me

and all the nights

that i did not walk into love

feet bare, fingers searching,

has been loss.

the weight of it all was enough

to make me walk away

and live.

— how to climb out of a foxhole.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Jordan Donaldson.

{Chasing Brave}. A writing group with me, on Facebook.

After pulling my hair out and adding a few more frown lines to my forehead over the last few days, the writing group off my Facebook author page, is FINALLY ready.

If you are not sure whether you will enjoy the group, here are the group rules. You do NOT have to be an experienced writer. I am not going to teach Creative Writing. We shall explore how to write more bravely and with more courage than we have up until now, together as a group.

If you are keen to join in on the weekly prompts, please request to join via the link. It is a private group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2507722909509651/?ref=share

For those of you who have no interest in writing—everything here will stay the same! Thank you for reading my poetry and my stories!

{Chasing Brave} Writing Group Housekeeping Rules.

1) In this group everyone is welcome regardless of religion, belief, gender, sexual orientation or race. Please don’t post links to other sites and any content that can be considered spam. Please respect each other.

2) I will share a weekly prompt either on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. We will explore how to look inward (with courage) and write outward (with brave vulnerability).

3) If you share what you have written, please mention whether you want any feedback from the rest of the group.

4) I am not a Creative Writing teacher, so I will not be focusing on technique. I want to help you take your writing a bit deeper—help you explore taking the layers off.

5) Encourage each other. Be kind! Remember that some members are beginners, others are more experienced at writing, but ALL of us require courage to share our work and our stories with strangers—hopefully we won’t be strangers for long!

6) Let’s turn this into a beautiful, safe, supportive writing community!

7) You do not have to share what you have written with the group, however please try and let us know how the writing exercise allowed you to grow (or not).

If you want to explore writing in a more vulnerable manner, then please join in! We are quite a large group at the moment and I am still finding my way around facilitating such a large number of people, but it is already productive and there has been some brave sharing.

 

liezel

faith | new names from old.

black birds flying darkly

up

and

down

the spine of my life.

i give them names

that sound like light.

faith

falling

brazenly

from my mouth.

— faith | new names from old.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Matti Johnson.

Sometimes the black birds of fear, shame and guilt will fly up and down your life… they like to go far back into your past and remind you of all the reasons you have failed. They like to fly into your future and prophecy that things will never work out; that you are not deserving of the things your heart dreams of.

You might listen to what they whisper.

But you don’t have to.

Give them new names—new names from the old ones.

Handmade names that sound like light.

For all the things that you are hoping for, let faith fall brazenly from your mouth.

liezel

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.