How to use a knife | A lesson in letting go.

she lets it come.

let’s it walk through the nave of her mind. past the stained-glass windows of her eyes.


does not invite it to sit down. does not offer it water or wine. no bread to make it linger.

when she recognises the face, she does not hide. stays very still. just breathes.


it is not easy.

this stillness carries its own weight.

silence is a heavy thing.

sometimes it brings the smell of that night, the sharp edge of the knife, the knowing that this could be it.

a child, she is held up by who knows what.

grace? strength? luck?

some would say God, sitting around two fires on a Saturday night.

the next day called Sunday, the day where people put holiness on like a coat. carry it to church pinned to a lapel.

the house un-empty around her.

still. nobody comes.

inside her head, she closes all the windows. all the doors. nothing in. nothing out.

unless she says so.

she weaves the night into a rope. holds onto it for the rest of her story.

tries to let others have a go at rowing the boat, learns that there are some who would come running if they could.

tries to untie herself every day, knows that only she can do this.

when she closes her eyes, it will come.

it will walk in with the grocery list, the sound of the washing machine in the background, it will hold hands with the tax return, the don’t-forget-to-call-your-mother, the dinner.

she will not allow it to have her, will not allow it to shape her mouth.

like the wild animal she is, she knows how to stand still, knows how to make her breath an ocean, knows how to walk into the waves until her thighs are wet with hope.

this moment belongs to the past, she holds its grandchild in her hands.

every day it lives further and further away.

she will watch, breathe, open her eyes, make tea. she will plant a seed, water a heart, pour new wine onto old wounds.

she will use a knife only to cut into the soft side of a fresh loaf of bread, or an apple.

nothing else.

in the moss of a forest cathedral, she will find her way onto her knees.

strong, is the name she calls herself, does not care for the names they call her.

she will learn how to play, teach herself how to stand in wonder.

she will unlearn the language of her dna, the one given to her.

she will put it down, walk away, find a new place to inhabit.

she will watch her life.

she will watch, breathing.

— how to use a knife | a lesson in letting go

© Liezel Graham 2020.

{Image by Pika Zvan on Unsplash}

a strong poem about hard things.

how meditation fosters healing.

how we are allowed to question the trite answers to trauma given to us. how we can, and must, find our own way into our own life.

how we can put down what was given to us, and yes, this seems to be a recurring theme in my work lately.

how things that happen to us in childhood, can tie us up for years in adjectives that look good from the outside, but might actually point towards a trauma response: the inability to ask for help when needed, independence at all costs, the mantra that nobody is coming to save you, so you had better save yourself.

this is a poem about unlearning. most of my poems seem to be about this.

this is a poem about finding healing every new day.

about knowing how to let things and memories, walk through your mind and how to let them go without holding on to them.

how it all comes back to the breath. the sacredness thereof. the holiness.

if this is you, I hope my words find you and wrap themselves around your shoulders.