somehow, i have kept a child alive in the dark and please don’t tell me how to be beautiful.

the light has woken me early, but the night that was only 380 broken minutes long, has left me tender and not yet ready for all these new hours that stretch lazily ahead of me, like a languid cat already seeking my attention, and i have pulled myself back from sleep 3 times in the name of all that is holy, so that i can put a needle into my sleeping son’s finger to check that there is enough glucose and insulin for him to wake again in the morning—not too much, and not too little, the porrige must be just right said the baby bear, and there was juice and a biscuit in the dark hours, sit up my boy and drink, you are too low, and with eyes closed he hears my voice and drinks, just like a long time ago, and still i manage to keep him alive, and isn’t this a miracle i whisper to myself, and just right is what the magazines say i must be, and not too hot (how dare she…) and not too cold (she’s really let herself go…) and there are women who were not even conceived yet, when i said yes, and they, these lovely, shiny, unlined and untested women, are telling me how to erase the gentle rise, and fall of my body’s topography, and that i should feel shame at the contour lines that snake over my womb, and someone with teeth as white as revelation is telling me how to pretend that my hips never held a heartbeat, and that my breasts were never a source of life, and this is how you shine if you want it all she says, and who doesn’t want that? but this morning i will settle for coffee and a slow-burning hope, and i unroll my yoga mat and i unfurl my limbs and my heart gently follows, and somehow i have kept a child alive in the dark—can you believe that? i ask the pretty girl—and please don’t tell me how to be beautiful.

just don’t.

and now the morning light has climbed in through my window like a bold, teenage lover, and it falls softly on my skin, and i can see all the pretty young women, and all the men who tell us how to be acceptable and everything they’ve ever dreamed of, and i can hear them as i fold my body down, down, down towards my feet, and i can hear their hunger, and it is no longer mine, and somehow i have kept a child alive in the dark, can you believe that? and this, is enough.

—somehow i have kept a child alive in the dark, and please don’t tell me how to be beautiful.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Arthur Roman.

christchurch.

and a morning will come where you will wake up to find that somewhere, somehow, some of us have lost the way, and heaven mourns this loss, and pain will weep all over the earth again, because hatred is nothing new and there have been hearts closed up tight against the light since time began, but you must remember, please do not forget this, that somewhere, somehow, a mother is teaching her son how to throw open the windows in his heart and a father is teaching his daughter that God is love and so are we, if we choose to be, and this is important, and people all over this world are standing up for love and crowding out the-thing-that-would-separate-us-into-boxes and even though it hurts right now and will for a very long time, in the end we will be ok if you hold my hand and i will hold yours, like a friend — i see you — and if we speak kindness over each other, like a blessing and if we hold up flags of mercy over our brothers and our sisters, and our mothers and our fathers, and ourselves, and if we remember that there is no them under heaven, just us, then we will be love and we will win.

— christchurch.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph Pixabay.

My heart goes out to the people of New Zealand today. xx

#christchurch

when she takes me back.

…and then there are days, and nights sometimes, where healing, is lying down on my yoga mat in a dark room and going back,

.

back, as far as the child within me wants to go, and i let her decide where we stop and linger for a bit. i have learned to trust her with this most important thing, and

.

sometimes we walk through my father’s vegetable garden and he is there and the sun is hot on my skin and the cicadas are shrill in the heat of the afternoon, but we are happy and content and i ask him the secret to growing strawberries that are sweet like syrup and how-do-i-know-just-when-the-corn-is-ready-to-be-picked, and show me how to read the clouds that gather over the karoo landscape, and he tells me all the hidden things a gardener needs to know, and it is like the rain that falls from a broken cloud and floods the dry earth.

.

but sometimes, we stop where words are like acid and my skin burns and my heart melts like lead over a hot flame and then it cools into a different shape, and all i can do is stand there with my hand on her shoulder — the child who i once was, and i tell her that it’s ok, it’s ok, you are going to be ok, just you wait and see.

.

…and please let these words fall off your skin, please don’t let them cling, and yes, there is pain and it is not just your heart that hurts, his does too, but he does not know how to undo the deep tracks left in those new fields, and pain that is given no name, loves to marry anger and none of this is your fault, and .

it’s ok to let the tears fall, even now, let them water your skin, and your bones, and the dry earth of your heart and it is never too late to let them come, and just you wait, you will see.

.

it will all be ok.

.

and then we come back and we hug and say goodbye, for a while, this is hard work — too hard for every day, and she leaves quietly and i get up and read bedtime stories to a heart that looks at me with love, and i get to kiss a soft boy-cheek goodnight, and somehow,

.

somehow, it is all ok, and somewhere i can hear her laugh.

.

— when she takes me back.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

Photograph Pixabay.

things i teach my son.

things i teach my son:

to honour his sadness

. when it settles in his bones.

to know the value of his tears.

to always give words

to the rain in his heart.

. this,

is my gift to the one

who will love him one day.

.

—things i teach my son.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

.

A familiar poem to some of you, and a very special poem to me. This little poem was recently published in The Scarlet Leaf Review along with three other poems that I wrote last year.

I hope you find it as special as it is to me.

.

.

You can read my other poems at

https://www.scarletleafreview.com/poems25/liezel-graham-poems

.

.

liezel

on teaching you kindness.

i turn you

into

gentle

words,

every

day.

so that

kindness,

will

always bloom

from

your

mouth.

— on teaching you kindness.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

I am Mum to a boy who is autistic.

Years of struggling with social interaction sees him confused whenever he is rejected by peers, or even adults.

He cannot understand why children reject his attempts at interaction and it is heartbreaking to watch, at times.

I don’t ever want his gentle heart to harden and after a failed attempt at making friends, we always talk it through—we try and figure out whether the other person was perhaps having a bad day, or maybe they didn’t hear him say ‘hello’.

I shower him with praise for trying—trying to reach out when it is easier not to.

I speak kindness over him, so that this will be his default language in spite of how others might treat him.

And perhaps, this is something we should do with ourselves?

Turn ourselves into words—kind, trusting, hopeful, compassionate, empathetic.

So that we can care deeply for our hearts when they are hurting.

xx

(Warrior) Mum.

i mourn

the things

that

(this)

life

will not give

to you.

but,

i do not

mourn

you.

— (warrior) mum.

There are days that I mourn what my beautiful boy will never have in this life.

But, I do not mourn him.

He is joy and sunshine and innocence, and my heart is attached to his by an invisible umbilical cord.

He is the answer to desperate prayers and hope fulfilled — treasure in the shape of a boy.