the sweetness of simple things, hard won.

I am watching my son, eleven-and-a-bit years, eat his lunch.

He has the same meal every day—oven chips, carrot and chicken. He takes comfort in the familiar—needs it, like he needs oxygen.

He is using both a fork and a knife.

More than that—he is using ordinary cutlery. He no longer needs specially shaped knives, forks and spoons that are shaped to make it easier to lift food from plate to mouth.

Just beautifully ordinary cutlery.

Taken from the cutlery drawer without a thought and slipped quietly next to plates and bowls.

He still won’t touch food with his bare hands, but this? This one we’ve conquered—the sweet result of years and years of working intensely on a simple skill.

My son is autistic. He also has dyspraxia. Simple instructions such as co-ordinating a knife and a fork at the same time, get lost in the conflicting messages between his neurological system and his muscles.

At least, it used to. Forks and knives and hands and mouth, now listen to his brain.

Dyspraxia impacts his life in hundreds of ways, but we have worked so hard.

Every day.

Giving up, has never been an option.

We don’t know the meaning of those words.

There have been lots of tears.

Mine and his, and we are intimately familiar with frustration.

But give up?

Never.

So, here we are, the two of us, on a quiet Thursday afternoon. It is raining outside, I am having a cup of tea and I am watching my boy eat his lunch with a knife and a fork, and it is an utterly beautiful thing.

— the sweetness of simple things, hard won.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph William Rouse.

A little glimpse into life in my home and the sweetness of simple things that are hard won.

liezel

swimming in deep water.

at the leisure centre

through the revolving doors

i walk

i wear my favourite jeans

the ones that lift

and support

there are parts of me

that need help

staying up

even after all these years of

strong

i come from a place only i know the scent of

i strip away

my coat

my shoes

i am on holy ground

a rain damp hat

knickers

too

everything that hides

me from the truth

of other bodies

them from me

me from you

i walk on feet

afraid

naked

almost

still

our eyes find each other

in all this wetness

and

we talk

we are strangers

in this great daring thing

together

we throw words to each other

like bright balls

catch and throw

catch and throw

your turn now

now my go

can i show

you

a little bit more of

me

when last has a stranger seen

the pale

of my skin

the dimples on my thighs

that grew with my pregnant

belly

but never left

twelve winters my hands have

felt them every night

just before i yield

reproving

as if my whole life is held

hostage

by the plumpness of my legs

that have carried me

bravely

through doors

and

far away from war

when we have finally shown

each other

enough

we undo the babysoft skin

of our courage

and

leave

revolving outward

into winter

later

quite by chance

we see each other in the

bread aisle

fingers carefully looking for

something sweet

our eyes do not meet

for more than

a second

they can’t

we are wearing far too many layers now.

— swimming in deep water.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Stefano Zocca.

after the scalpel.

for a few days

after

a surgeon takes a scalpel

to my body,

i am forced

to grow

still.

i am not made for this.

i fight

to move

to stand up

to change my life

without needing any help.

there are mountains to climb

and a valley

to find my way out

of.

it hurts.

they said it would

take

time

that i do not know how to give.

but every slow-gold afternoon

after we have had our lunch

and

after i have filled my pockets

with plans,

my son carries his pillow,

blankets,

bears.

into my room

where he climbs

onto my bed,

curls up

softly

into the roundness of my hip

the quiet place that

only he knows

as home.

i am this

to him.

still.

his breath warm on my shoulder,

a whisper

…isn’t this nice, mom?

— after the scalpel.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Annie Spratt.

the woman who laughed in colour.

today i saw a woman

.

in an orange jumper

and

a red floral skirt

.

creased

.

from all the living she had already done by

noon

.

brown hair unbrushed

.

rebelliously

wild

.

and when she smiled at me

the soft skin around her eyes

showed me how much

she loves to laugh

in colour

.

at life

.

a history lesson in joy

.

and for a moment she was

the most beautiful thing that

i had ever seen, and

.

i wonder if she knows this

when she looks at herself

in the mirror at night.

.

— the woman who laughed in colour.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

Photography by Kate Kozyrka.

.

Today at the library I saw a woman in a wrinkled, rumpled outfit, no make-up and with her hair unbrushed and a little wild, but when she smiled at me she lit the room up, and her smile was like an explosion of colour, and I hope she knows just how beautiful she is, and how her face spoke of her love for life, and it was a pure, intoxicating thing to witness.

.

liezel

it doesn’t have to be perfect.

there are wars being fought all over the skin of the earth, and

tomorrow does not fit into my hand.

does not have my name written on it yet, but

today

a magpie in its dinner coat,

is having an icy bath

in a pothole

in the middle of the road,

fearless.

and isn’t all this beauty wonderful?

— it doesn’t have to be perfect.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Jannet Serhan.

a wee monday scribble to remind you that despite it all, this world is a beautiful place…

liezel

peter mayer sings it beautifully over here,

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=JHqv753oXnM&feature=share

how to fight death.

almost half my faith ago,

when i was wide-eyed

and

fresh in my skin,

a man in a white coat said

i think this might be all

that you’ll get, and

then

there will be no more days left,

for you to chase

in wonder.

and the thought that dying

might be difficult,

climbed onto

my lap and

stayed

with

me.

but somehow i was given more, and

ever since then i have run after

every scrap of beauty

that has danced

past me, and

the feel of the ocean on my skin, and the way that yellow freesias smell like joy, and the taste of the first cup of coffee in the morning, and the curve of my son’s nose against my breast as he nestled to feed in the dark, and the smell of rain after a drought, and the

way that my heart can still make

room for more love, and

how much courage

it takes to trust,

again

and

again, and

every time that fear

told

me

to

sit down,

i said no,

and i stood up.

and this is how i came to know

that living,

is the more difficult thing

to do.

not everybody knows

that dying is easy.

we are all doing it,

right now,

without even trying.

but

do

you

know

how to look fear in the eye,

and

say,

how beautiful is this day,

and i think i shall

enjoy it

very

much

to be

alive,

if only for a little while

longer.

— how to fight death.

(for djs with all my love).

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by David Boca.

the kiss.

summer’s light pulls me from my sleep earlier than i had hoped, but still i wake to silence in the house and quietly i rise, feet bare; limbs stretched out  a languid nod to the sun on the green of my mat and later, somewhere between midnight and now, i make breakfast and countless cups of hot assam tea. 

and as the hours slowly walk their way towards home, i teach a small boy how to do addition — if you take one and add it to another, just like this, see how well they fit together, then you have two. and this is how we find each other in the most ordinary of places.

and later, after lunch, i stare for a long while in silence, at the swollen thunderclouds making slate-grey rain fall down on theold kilpatrick hills, and i envy them their freedom to let go, and somehow, somewhere between the soft shell of my earlobe and the horizontal exclamation of my clavicle, my bruised skin remembers your mouth. 

and i wonder how to hide this, but my body will not listen, it never does, and the radio is softly playing that song, do you remember it, and i peel potatoes for dinner, and run hot bubble baths, and all i can do is blush. 

 the kiss.