I wish I could have told you what you wanted to hear.

i would rather be the one to tell you that
the other day when the world was burning
and people were unable to breathe
and they were dying, still are
people
who want the same hope-coloured life
that i do, and you

i wonder if someone has told them
to be thankful for what they have received
for what they have been given

a life made of fear, and thorns, and lack

i could have told you all about them, but i didn’t

on this day, in the shadow of a concrete bridge
that spans a narrow road—it has seen quite a few things
come
and
go

there, i found one half of an eggshell on the sidewalk
bloodstained, stringy mucus
still stuck
a happy yellow, clinging to the inside of the diaphanous walls
discordant
this colour that looks like joy

only half of the shell, mind you, and no proof of life
at all

as soon as my eyes found it, i bent down

i do this all the time, going low, low
lower than where i am comfortable

i have been told that i run off after the wrong things
always rifling through the wrong places, searching
for what to believe
still
i have this—holding the small barrenness
of that ephemeral womb in my open hands
i looked up
and the sky was big, and wide
and full of secrets
and i am small
and have no answers but this

that the other day when the world was burning
and people were unable to breathe
and they were dying, still are
even though they hope for it to pass them by, this darkness
just like i did once

and it did

and i wish i knew why, but i don’t

the sky is full of secrets and i don’t know the ways of God
or what She does when i am not looking, or
when i asked Him for life and He said, yes, to me
but not to you

i wish i knew, i wish i knew

i will tell you this, that if i had the answers
to these ragged questions, dear God
i would have so many more empty hours in which to fill
with prayers that leave my mouth
knowing exactly what to do
instead of falling about
stumbling over the rules that were made up by someone else
given to me, as truth

long after i left them behind, i still find them, here
and there, clinging like burrs

i could have told you that i have all the answers, that
i will not look the other way
that i will not search
for something thrown in my path, anything
the smallest bit of blood, perhaps
death
and still see it as beauty

i wish i knew, i wish i knew
but instead

this is what i did
i stood still
beneath a concrete bridge, breathing, this gift
that i am not yet chosen to leave

not yet

and i am grateful for this, and this is how i live my life
cars passing me by, people on their way to whatever life
they hope they have been given

and me
throwing caution to the wind, eating the wild faith that i have made
with my own hands

grateful
grateful
grateful

searching the heavens
for the sound of tiny wings.

— i wish i could have told you what you wanted to hear

© Liezel Graham 2021.

Photograph, my own.