Because it is a Stone
Because it is a stone
the fire hits it, moves around,
changing shape like a wave.
Because grief is not a word
that counts footsteps or encapsulates
the butcher’s madness, just builds like
a deep stagnant pool of a pond – one drop,
one drop, rising.
Because all the vegetables have not been picked through,
and more people hold compassion than they do hate,
the tree can grow, the fountain can flow up and make
a statement of solidarity, a sound
peaceful to those who are near.
Because the robin keeps coming back
to sit on my lawn, stares at me and waits
for my greeting before moving on.
Because hope is red eyes stinging,
but sight unimpaired,
and the darkening shadows darkening
the day-to-day landscape drift –
sometimes far away.
Because there is early morning, peppermint tea,
and love abides in everything living,
I can walk another step, another day,
bury the corpse of a treasured friend,
and place something beautiful
(a stone, a whisper) beside the grave.
Bitter patience, counting moonlight beams
on fledging grass stems.
Endure for the law that presses heavy and cold
against your chest.
Endure because there is no leaving
only traveling on.
Weapons put away, dressing
strictly for good form.
The planets rock back and forth,
bump against each other, but like us, are bonded,
unalterably glued to their personal constellations.
Irrational hope is the shadow I have,
the silent zone of my cortex that defeats reality, yet below
the storm gathers and changes course for no one.
What used to be roots are now tossed away, ripped
on the ridges of sidewalks like bubble gum wrappers.
Storm that has no subliminal meaning, is only storm,
gun shots in the wind. Patience.
Wait for the unwanted guest to go. Wait for your life
to mature finally into what you wish it would be.
Time and the matrix point
of nerves that sound off like
a dinner bell, riveting through
the body, vibrating the bones and all
that stands between.
You speak of shifting plateaus,
but the paint hasn’t even left the brush,
the walls are cracked, veined and under
the watchful eyes of those who walk the halls.
The rules you treasure are intricate masterpieces
of divine tapestry but they are not the mud-sling
upheaval, unpredictable holy heartache,
muscle aches that mark us as we grow old, and touch
each other in the day-to-day of waking up,
sharing the bathroom, the kitchen, animals
who belong with us, depend on us, and sickness.
Here is my watering can. It is sufficient. It too has wisdom.
One eye only that blends and interprets all perceptions.
Here is my tale, my acts of shade, shelter and sun.
The seraphim drive home dreams in vows on fire,
born from nebulas and the hands
of the bricklayer and secretary.
Yours is one way, powerful, yes, but so are the trees,
a toddler’s temper tantrum, the Lord’s Prayer more so –
clasped hands, no separation, helpless, wordless,
at the beginning, saved.
Past the burnt-down barn,
past the tracks of a narrow road
far into wilderness chaos, the clearing is found,
shelves are emptied, floors are once again seen.
The house is open like lips learning
how to talk instead of scream. There is peace
in the soundwaves, animals are
from the verge of death, upright, energy restored.
It was a long walk to the podium to finally have your say,
but the effort has paid off, the love given was not wasted
or disfigured permanently, was not solidified into
a lost-forever horrorshow as we thought it would.
Gold has returned to our pockets, water faucets are running,
laughter is common, coming from under doors.
Love is like it once was when we had our Rooms of Joy –
when we had each other, explorers of unending light.
Around the tree I dance my praise.
Gratitude I never expected,
years of trying to pet the violent horse’s mane,
touch its forehead with a kiss –
now she is still, soft and free.
We made it past the dumpyards and the
foreign countries full of war and pillage.
We stayed the course, singing when we could, letting go
of hope in steady increments of necessity,
unravelling the last thread of our faith
until hell overtook. And in those relentless flames
we still believed and asked for mercy.
Mercy has come.
My home is happy once again. My children have returned,
married and bearing the seeds of deep maturity and there,
there, sprouting back after years of dormancy,
those glorious, sacred child-like smiles.
I have fallen by the wayside,
scrapped divinity for a taste
of the overflow.
Everytime speaking, I was
silenced like a nailed board
sealed above my head.
came in ruthless heat pulses
depleting the oxygen, terrorizing
The lap pool was chemically soiled.
All manner of fungi bloomed,
as dark bonds visibly materialized.
dimensional coveralls – covering all –
left side of my body decaying, chomped at
by an unswerving force, asking for my devotion,
demanding unquestioned servitude
regardless of devotion.
Blindly I fell into the river’s fold,
no strength left in my upper arms
so I drifted to the wayside, into
muddy misquote egg-beds
and the hiding nooks of snakes
left there to breathe in fish-corpse fumes,
with the washed ashore water-logged frogs,
dreaming amphibian dreams.
Call it in,
into the palm,
into the spoon,
the upsidedown shell.
Hold its liquid grace
and walk slowly over hunchback hills,
tall weeds and cracked pavement.
Do not spill a drop.
Shield it from the sun
so it will not evaporate.
Shield it from the stars
so it does not recognize its kin
and claim its home back amongst them.
Shield it from the children
who naturally harness such vitality.
And also, from the animals,
they will gather it in their mouths
and feed it to their early-summer offspring,
knowing its worth.
Instead, call it in
because this small measure is only yours,
as long as you call it in and let all other things go,
go to serve your house and others.
As long as you know, possession here is paramount,
protection is integrity, is the way
to keep the sponge saturated, your jaw firm
Call it in,
into the brown jar on your sacred shelf,
anoint it secret, pay the wages
to ensure its safety. Sip from it,
sometimes a little, sometimes more than a little,
like rejoicing, like uncoiling, caught
pure, naked, in a space fully lit with
no off-switch or walls.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for “Best of the Net”, 2015/2017/2018, she has over 1200 poems published in over 475 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