womb.

i have always been

a misfit

and

a rebel,

a dweller on the fringe,

a woman who refuses

to submit, or

fit

into a box,

and

why do i always have to ask

so

many

questions, it makes you uncomfortable, and

angry,

and,

why can’t i just obey?

it is a woman’s place,

don’t you know, because

the bible tells me so, and

does He still love me,

the song says He may, but

you

say

no, and

honestly, i don’t know anymore.

and there are times,

at least 365 moments in a year, where i wonder if it would be easier

to just give in

and

be

what you want me to be, but

already i can feel the weight

on my bones, and my heart knows

that it is strong enough

to hold,

what i once thought

was truth, up to the heavens

and say,

this is not enough, and

there are people here who need to be loved, and you say

no.

but, hear me now

this is not enough.

can you hear me?

we are not being enough.

and i have examined holy words,

hoping to knit them into a blanket,

soft and big enough

to cover the naked heart

of a broken woman, but

it was too

flimsy,

and

threadbare.

and they said,

all the holy ones,

that she should be left

on the other side of the road, because her sin is too great,

and we know best.

and i said,

(but nobody cared

what I thought),

hasn’t this been done before?

in another time and place,

and didn’t someone write

it down on a scroll,

perhaps whilst eating of

the bread and the wine,

and didn’t God decide

that it was not enough?

but i am wrong, they say.

what do i know.

i am just a woman, after all

and where is my husband,

and i do not belong

to the council — that holy club,

where decisions are made

about

wombs

and

other

uncomfortable words

that walk around on two legs

in the dead of the night,

rape

and

incest, and

how they may only be managed by men,

and we must protect life, but

when there are two,

who wins?

not me.

not girls

not women,

only men, it seems.

and,

also there was that scene

a long time ago,

and,

also yesterday

and today

and tomorrow,

where a woman was caught,

and still is, every day, everywhere

red-handed in sin, and

perhaps you have heard about her?

and of course,

there must have been another,

a man,

but we don’t hear about him at all,

and

she was caught sinning.

a different sin to theirs, and

there was no love on that day,

either, only

rocks

and

laws

but Mercy was there,

quietly

sitting in the dust,

singing a love song over her,

that woman,

me.

but,

i think we don’t know

the words to that song anymore, and

all we know now

is that we are not free, and

girls will know,

and

women will know,

we are not free.

and here i sit

holding

your truth in my hands, but

it is not mine anymore,

and you are disappointed,

i know.

but i have folded it

into halves

and

again

into quarters,

in the hope

that i might make it small enough

to fit into my pocket,

so that i can take it out with me

and

shake it out on a cold night

to cover a naked woman,

or a child,

who has had everything stolen

from her,

but it is still not enough.

and i think

we are all cold, now.

— womb.

© 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.

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

(the world is weeping) and there is tender work to be done.

you can bring

someone

a basket of hope,

soft and fresh.

.

.

but

you

cannot

make

them

eat.

.

. a broken heart,

is not easy to feed.

.

.

and,

watching the light

fade

from the bones

of someone

you

love,

.

.

can shrink the heart.

.

.

yes, it can.

but,

you must not give up.

.

. we,

are the light bearers.

the ones who chase darkness

from corners,

as we help

search for lost coins. and lost dreams. and lost

hope.

.

. we,

are the ones

who

plant

mustard

seeds

in dusty soil, and .

tell terrifying mountains

to move.

.

.

even

though

our

voices

break.

.

. we,

are the ones

who

carry

water

in buckets

for those

who are

too tired

to hope

for a harvest.

.

. we,

are the reminders,

with life on our tongue.

.

.

the ones who

whisper,

.

. i know this road, too.

take my hand.

i will not leave,

you.

.

.

so,

don’t give up.

not now.

.

.

roll up your sleeves.

straighten

your

bruised

heart.

.

. listen.

.

.

the world,

is weeping, and

.

.

there is tender work

to be done.

— (the world is weeping) and there is tender work to be done.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by Rene Asmussen.

on being the holy broken.

you wonder

if it is worth

living your life

cracked

wide

open, whether

.

.

wearing your heart

on your sleeve

and

all your

hopes

carried in

unclenched

hands,

is ever safe, where

.

.

all the world can

see, and

all the world can

say

what they feel

about the tender courage

that has

taken

root

within you.

.

.

it will not be easy.

no.

definitely not.

there will be pain.

it is a new birth,

after all.

.

.

but, you must not

curl

inward.

.

.

lift your head.

unfurl your spirit.

reach upward.

live outward.

.

.

you are the holy broken.

.

.

the one holding the light.

.

.

and if you show your scars, people will come

and sit with you,

and they will listen.

.

.

and this

is how we heal each other.

by living gently,

and walking vulnerably.

unafraid of opinion.

ready to wipe away

tears

and

fears

and

other darkness,

with the light

shining

from

the cracks

in our bones.

moved only by the spirit.

.

.

so, yes—do it.

live your life a white dove

on the battlefield.

.

.

cracked

right

open.

.

.

it will all be ok.

.

.

—on being the holy broken.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by @luizclas .