this is how i fight.

i light two candles,

place them on the windowsill
in my kitchen, next to the begonia blooming orange

it doesn’t know there is chaos
out there, somewhere.

everywhere. all day,

but especially the night

when day has drawn
her blackout blind and i am suddenly
without crumbs in the forest,

they burn,

reflecting all my faces
back at me.

flickering smallness
enough,

to lead me back
from all the dark places
my head wants to go.

listening to the news,

i drink my morning tea
from a delicate, china cup

my best teapot and cake,

defiant
on a tray.

this is how i fight, my hands

full of beauty,

i stand.

still.
tall.

my eyes held by the light.

— this is how i fight.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Charleigh Clarke.

have you ever?

have you ever eaten
sweet potato

baked in its own skin, taken straight from the oven
still warm.

rough on your mouth
at first,

but then,

sweet

soft flesh,
opening orange
on your starved tongue

no fork
no knife
or plate,

not dressed up as anything
it is not.

hands taking what they want,

this gift.

— have you ever?

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Ela Haney.
{Unsplash}.

there is beauty all around us.

this morning, i baked a tray of lovely sweet potatoes.

a poem found me in the soft, orange flesh.

you are not the well.

did you also tell yourself
that you have to save
everyone

just to feel the weight of their

‘i love you’

on your skin?

…and did they also tell you,

when your eyes were still
dew soft with memories
of where you were made,

and put together in the secret places,

that

their happiness was all tied
up inside of you

with ribbons, except

they were really ropes.

and it has been impossible
for you
to
escape,

their hunger

which consumes you from the outside in, and you are

always having to smile
and keep the peace.

keep them happy
when they break.

always having to glue
things

and places
and people

right back together

when you have run out of light
yourself?

as if this were the only
thing that heaven has
called you
to do.

that when the angel stirs the pool you have to carry them
in, but

it never works.
they are never healed.
they are never, ever happy.

because you are not the water.

it is a lie.

you
are not here to save people
from themselves.

you
are not here to earn love.

to cross deserts,
and fields of thorns
for someone to draw water
from your empty hands.

just because you have a cup

does not mean
you are a well.

you are not the source,
or even the back that carries
the weight.

somehow,
you were not told
that your voice is strong,

and beautiful.

and that it can sing on
its own,

carry an entire melody
alone!

and has anyone ever told you
this,

that there is a God
for everyone,

and

it is not you.

you,
are free to go.

go and live!

— you are not the well.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Frank Albrecht.

I don’t like posting twice on the same day, but I really want to put this one up tonight.

You cannot be the source of someone’s happiness, peace and joy.

It is not your job.

And sometimes, we are told this from a very young age and all we know from thereon out, is that we need to keep the peace… we don’t learn that we can challenge opinions, and say ‘no’ to things that make us uncomfortable.

we become people pleasers with a skewed sense of love.

we think that we have to somehow earn the ‘i love you’s’ by being the source to people who don’t know where to find it themselves, or don’t want to find it themselves.

you are not a crutch.

you were a given a life.

go and live it!

With a grateful nod to Melissa T, for a line that I used in this poem.

liezel

you are allowed to put your life down and rest.

you are not enough
to feed five thousand.

even three has been too much,
despite what others see.

have you felt a failure
because of this?

even God had to row to the other side of the sea
to escape.

and rest.

— you are allowed to put your life down and rest.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Kasper Lau.

you can make anything from ashes. even beauty.

so, your heart is broken

and pain has leached the sunlight from your bones.

what will you do with this gift?

— you can make anything from ashes. even beauty.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

Photography by Annie Spratt.

Yesterday, I shared this poem with a friend whose heart needed a bit of hope, that even the hard things, no—especially the hard things, often lead to wondrous things.

…and that pain, if held onto loosely, can be the substance of beauty.

liezel

{this poem will be in ‘a counting of love’}.