thoughts on failure.

let your failures leave you a better person, not a bitter person.

you are not alone in failing.

let the mistakes you have made—all of them—even the big ones, especially the big ones, leave you as one who will walk back to search for the one who needs help.

you are not the only one who has been lost.

everyone says let go of your failures—let go of your past. i say, all the things you wish you could undo in your life—those three am regrets? don’t let them go. hold onto them, but hold onto them loosely, so that you will always remember what it feels like to get it wrong.

because you are not the only one who has to fight off their past.

don’t let shame define you, but don’t forget the taste of it in your mouth.

give others what you needed when you were on your knees, with your back against the wall.

do this without any ulterior motive.

just be kind.

kindness, compassion and love like to get their hands dirty. they’re not ones for standing around looking holy.

so, take your hurts, take your memories, your failures and your regrets, and go out there and be a safe place for others and give them grace like it’s water.

you hold light in your hands and hope in your mouth.

and you might be the only one doing so.

this is how we change the world. this is how we save lives.

— thoughts on failure.

Photograph by Ander Burdain.

this is not my usual style, but things that need to be said.

liezel

on love like a moon.

all day long

we share our space

with each other.

my son and i.

we’ve done this before.

my belly full and round.

a moon

hung low in the winter sky.

at night,

he wriggles his way down

to the bottom of his bed.

the curtains across the window drawn open,

so that he can trace the stars

in the ink-black sky

as he falls asleep.

every morning he wakes,

hair tousled, cheeks pink

and sleep soft.

his head

where his feet should be.

feet,

where his head should be.

he has never cared much for

doing things the

proper way.

i gave him this gift.

at breakfast,

he tells me stories about how

the moon orbits the earth,

always showing the same side.

the same love.

no matter what,

she does not change.

following the same path,

she returns to her

beginning.

just like me.

and right there,

covered in toast crumbs

and the last of the chocolate milk,

happiness falls from his mouth

like light.

— on love like a moon | where i began.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Ganapathy Kumar.

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.

courage.

i would like to say that

i look for beauty

everywhere

i go.

that i see it in the rebellious pout

of an old woman’s lips,

a slash of red

life owes her nothing.

has taken much

given more

she knows this truth

that it will all end at some point.

it will come to a sudden stop.

but

not

yet.

that will be me some day,

i say.

and i mean it.

and when i saw a young woman in costa,

freshly mothered

feeding her baby.

breast in tiny mouth

where everyone

could see,

but nobody was bothered

by a hunger being stilled

in their company.

such a quiet loveliness.

and that was me,

i say.

eleven winters ago,

but i had to leave the table.

my cup of hot tea.

my dignity.

to search for hidden places where the curve of my skin

as i fed my son

would not

offend

you.

if i could do it again

i would be

brave.

i would.

and i mean it.

and sometimes beauty

finds me first.

i do not always have to look for it.

such a quiet kindness.

dressed in old wellington boots,

she was

feeding

the mallard ducks bathed in low liquid sunlight.

casting her bread upon deep murky waters,

for the angry mute swans.

their cygnets

grey

unlived-in feathers

furiously

fluffing.

that will be me some day,

i say.

and i mean it.

still finding things

that need

to be

fed

even as they peck at my feet.

— courage.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Evie S.

fear has a hungry voice.

the fear that owns you

has a hungry

voice

falling

from

your

lips

when you are not looking.

— fear has a hungry voice.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

This is the first micropoem in my #HealingTheHurtChildWithin

series.

‘The fear that owns you…’

Childhood trauma or hurts that you have not dealt with, becomes another voice that lingers in the background.

It often speaks in anger, or in fear, when it shouldn’t.

It doesn’t speak up when it should.

It ignores things that it should not overlook.

It is easily triggered by things it shouldn’t be triggered by.

It says ‘yes’ when it wants to be loved, and ‘no’ when it is afraid of being loved.

When it speaks, it often leaves you wondering ‘why did I say that’ or ‘why do I react this way’?

It is a voice that is hungry—hungry to be loved, hungry to be found ‘enough’, hungry to be seen, hungry just to feel some sort of confirmation that there is still life and that it is worth living.

It always has a root.

I am still very aware of this other voice of mine. Healing has not been an overnight thing for me.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments,

liezel

Photography by Evie Shaffer.

how many ways are there to love?

i slice perfect circles every day

for years

the shape is important

it keeps your world

safe

carrots for your lunch, and

a yellow apple

the sweetness

for after

always the same

they said this would be hard

on my heart, but

here we are

you and i so far up this mountain

that i cannot hear their voices anymore

they didn’t tell me that love

would fall from my hands

at lunchtime,

without carrying a single word.

— how many ways are there to love?

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Monicore.

my son eats a handful of foods.

the same ones for years, now.

this is not uncommon in #autism.

initially—in the very early years, just after diagnosis, this scared me.

now, it is who he is.

we have our own language of love.

words are superfluous.

x

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.