Love is not a shell
I tell you I am waiting for a new friend
to share these beautiful riches, to feel
safe with and to feel whole.
I tell you I am waiting for new and
permanent members of our clan – for all of us
here, striving for rich connection and finding
that most people will only go so far, most people
blend in without steam and then move on, on to where
the demands of intimacy are minimal and accountability
means making, defending, excuses.
I tell you I am happy for those who walk with me, and
my arms are open. Food is on the table.
By the edge,
the fire drifted from the sands
and all my tribe bit the bolt
hard. For life was hard,
and our ceremonies of perseverance,
of letting go, and of holding on
were all we had.
Shadows and senselessness walked
across our movie screen.
I put it all in our backyard –
the carcasses of mourned dead animals,
the memories of betrayal and grief, people
that never tried and those
that tried but just not hard enough.
I put them there and buried them close to the fence,
behind the evergreens, near where the sandbox used to be.
I told everyone tales of ‘true blue’
and the phone would ring
and then it would stop
and everyone of us held hands. We prayed.
We knew this was just a time of scarcity and soon
it would be a time of plenty:
We knew the joy of loving one another.
I waited on you,
now I am free to let the waiting go.
I give you back the burden of setting things right.
I give you back the long walks carrying
a weight I could not control, the tightness
circumventing my throat and my days never perfect
because of senseless lack – I give it back to you,
the fallen star, the third-degree burns,
the collection of my fears and disappointments.
I cannot hold it any longer. My own voice betrays
me – desperation has mutated me, but not
anymore. You can hold all these inadequacies
and the stark gravity
of survival – you can create love out of nothing,
bring destiny to our doorstep, take all this debt
and impossibility and raise it over the threshold.
You can take
this crippled breath and paint it fresh and easeful.
I give it back to you. I expect nothing but
freedom, to walk again like a very young child –
You walk. It has been so long,
centuries wasted on grudges and bread crumbs
you should not have kept.
Evil tows its sleigh through the cold afternoon,
barren as peace without connection. You felt
fire, illness, drowning, then
the grave, and still it did not stop the hardness in your eyes,
not the strength of your fears and the lies you
told yourself to carry out your filthy betrayal.
Crafty in your emotions,
locked in the realm of paranoia and mistrust, you walk.
You mean nothing to me now. At least, it’s what
I wished for. At least, I can say – “It’s alright”
And it is, though I dream of our connection
and know the wage is high.
Though I cannot erase your remains
from my moving spokes – I will find friendship
away from your eyes. I will see you one day and feel
We spent the day in our cocoon,
away from the tricks and trades of
worldly mayhem. Just us and the rain
outside, blanketing us in rich privacy.
There was dancing and dreaming and summer
ahead with promises of keeping the poltergeist crowd
in a cloud over there, menacing but never reaching
the burn on our brows or our gathering intimacy.
There was the breathing in, the strengthening of our truth.
There was daylight plastering our walls
with a hope we haven’t seen for years.
There were paper airplanes and charades, falling asleep
in each other’s arms . . .
A hundred years of fire and prevention, never enough
to crawl out of the pit, flesh-like, but made
of a shinier substance. Never the ticket,
never the fountain base repaired,
leaking like a broken skull,
nightmares of the phone breaking just when
I have something important to say,
nightmares of treading water,
swarmed by watery prehistoric things,
of being blown apart and not dying,
not resting, seeing love
ineffectual, and God – so far away.
Days of the world having its pulling-tugging say,
and my tongue pulsing with a swelling thirst,
waiting to be swept clean
of heartache and these despairing sensations,
waiting without a photograph or résumé,
just the summer still ahead and my children, so beautiful
that I want to be happy.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 950 poems published in over 400 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, seven collections, nine chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com