Bone and sleeve, blessed
a thousand times over –
first it enters through the back, a wave
of rare wind flooding the pores, then through the front,
a deeper rush that separates the skin
like rock into sand, making granules, softness
to cup loosely in hands.
You never viewed me dressed in my own hues. You tired
with your guilt and pity, clinging to the ruthless rules
of worldly absolutisms, rules void of miracles,
void of the greatness of God. It is not your fault.
You were born in a poverty den, surrounded
by uproar and mouths of many hungering siblings.
Violence and servitude, and so many trapped ghosts
filling the stairways, settling
in the corridors, peering through paintings. A home
where spirits latched on to doorknobs, the nails in floorboards,
bred like bugs under pillows, in closed-door closets.
I cannot blame you, later you earned and kept your independence,
but still the one thing remained your master
like a severe hand coming down, dominating,
throwing cutlery across the room, thrashing
your childlike joy to pieces.
My lungs can’t function in that haunted landscape.
I am rising new born, rising with no sense of
separation. I move beyond my temporal bloodlines.
I will not own your wounds as truth. Even still, I love you.
I bless the bell. I bless how far we both have come – new homes,
clean of bad breath and the tormented tightening-grip of others.
Miracles are fish that somehow know
their way through the oceans.
Miracles are stones, glorious as stars,
or a rat in winter guided
to a dumpster feast.
Flaw Mended in the System-Sphere
The ground is a pond
widening into a lake.
Before and around me,
tiny turtles, thriving
in the early morning calm.
A spinning globe expanding,
a blessing that saturates even backwards
into the folds of yesteryears’ jaundice.
Where will it take me? Out of the vice-lock gripping my gut,
out of days and decades of useless but obligatory activity,
out of the prison cell with thick walls of searing flames
and no sink or stream to gather water.
I want a life to own loudly on all fronts,
a life where every part of every day is glorious, even
the hard parts, the grief, the quivering breath of a vision
temporarily lost and the sand beds swelling with capsized bodies.
Where I could say that is mine, a flavour in my quest
for purification, a motion of love and delectable intensity.
The land is stretching its fingers, gathering space,
claiming territory. I want the rising ripple.
I cannot live much longer bonded to the wall,
chained at the throat and joints. I cannot keep
making up stories of how this is acceptable or anything
other than a secret punishment to justify
love gathered and love received. I dissolve that belief
and nod to the oncoming wave.
Drown these brick-wall flames,
drown my boots and my gloves, gather me naked
into your ride, over this barrier, into a deeper maturity,
where I will know fulfillment on all fronts
– field, home, city streets –
aligned, nourished, in service.
Flip, flop and pound
on the other side of night,
like in pre-teen summers,
peeling paint off the rafters,
hanging around at a nearby park and pool,
climbing the old tree to catch a glimpse, an ear-full
of your boy-focus and his conversations,
moving forward with solvable cares.
Days were burning fingertips on ice,
tucked in pockets after the fact, when being alone
meant you could soar (all senses alert) into the sun,
onto a past-life planet, more vibrant than
even your infant awakening, here.
Flavours slid down rooftops, made their way down
brick walls, painting
front yard gardens in watercolour tones.
I needed you to blow the whistle, remove the veil of the dull
horror of living without hope, of swaying back
and forth on the high line. I needed your devotion, not
your powdered nose appearance, lies of gainful tapestry
adventures – cut clean from commitment or attachment.
Loyalty, on the dinner plate, in the bathtub, honesty
in the eye-to-eye, I needed
to trust your words, that what was between us would always be clean.
But so it stands, a muddy thick brew up to our throat lines.
I stand on stilts on a ship on stillwaters looking
all around. Nothing to see but endless sea – dreams
liquefied as illusions – love, impossible,
because I see, and all I see
is that I am alone.
Acceptance as Recovery (the blinds are drawn)
The light wind,
the heavy wind
belongs beyond the flesh
and gravity’s consent.
We are stopped at the threshold –
a pomegranate in the water, floating,
soon to be devoured.
When the child grew up,
apparitions of abandonment remained,
blistering the eyes now and then with salt.
Hot fear, unease in the gap between
the mind and doing.
What is this? A waterfall to stand under,
to try to master the onrushing force, and climb?
I think you never belonged here
that is why you don’t eat or own your own skin like origin.
I think you were a jellyfish on another world,
a fluorescent swimmer without a skeleton,
barely feeling the torrent ebb and flow around you.
I think you glow like something brighter in an already bright sky,
You reject the stone, anything that burns permanently into your flesh,
demanding you to be human.
You came a long way and went a long way to the other side.
You are one-of-a-kind, a creation who is always
in the process of equally praising and escaping.
You gather your light like gunpowder.
It is hard maneuvering on this primitive plane
of terrifying unpredictability.
It is hard to be so bright, so see-through,
and not to be part shielded, and where not shielded,
long lines of jagged division, fractured roots and core, damaged.
Make a Bridge
Make a bridge,
follow its framework,
off that bridge into
an ice-cold pond
where the underbelly is
readying for hibernation.
Be cold under that bridge,
remember who you are –
the maker and the one who fell.
It is good to paint
delirium and devotion
as one and the same.
It is good to arrive secret in your niche, never
letting anyone know you are there,
if you want to stay and not be up-seated.
Make a monster
to keep in your pocket
that you can caress or make squeal at will.
No one will hold you accountable as long
as it remains unspoken of, vaguely secret.
No one will ask you to make
another bridge – one will be enough.
In time, falling and freezing
miles below the surface
will be the milestone, the lasting legacy.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Four times nominated for “Best of the Net”, 2015/2017, she has over 1125 poems published in over 450 international journals and anthologies. She has 21 published books of poetry, six collections and six chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com
Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album. “River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst” released October 2017.