Allison Grayhurst is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 370 poems published in more than 190 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published ten other books of poetry and four collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay;www.allisongrayhurst.com
When I was a fish the morning light
brought me near the shark’s skilled swim.
I would hide behind rocks and sea urchins, watching
the octopi and their slow contracting movement.
When I was an octopus, my tentacles could think.
I knew of things like volcano ruptures and how
to escape fishnets and other forms of human capture.
When I was a deer I was in union, safe with my clan,
grazing in the lion’s domain.
When I was a lion, female, tense with the hunt,
protective of my playful young, I knew of thirst
and days without food, retreating from the large and
When I was a baby child, it felt like there was a stone
stuck in my throat and a restlessness racing through my limbs.
I cried and cried when I was a baby, unfamiliar
with this daunting helpless form.
I don’t know how long I will ride
upstream with my arms around this waning moon
or if the deadwood I carry on my boat will be lightened
and used. Heaven is a hair strand I lost in the waters,
far from any net or shore. All the days are taken and none are left
to Sunday. I travel this way, cold to my own heart—a piece
of rock in space, a business card wet in the gutter.
By light I try to commune, but my prayers are like thin clouds
that form then fade and I have no idea how long I will stay
a flake, less than broken,
and nothing more.
Ghost of Poverty
The second time I ran from the ghost
that wailed victory over my strength,
that altered my imagination
to conform to its sparseness and struggle.
The second time I fled
because I could no longer hold
that piece of broken window, injured
by anxiety, prey to its see-through horror.
I wrote down what I knew. I could explain it,
compact it, but never change its substance
or its tyrannical influence.
That second time, running, I realized
it coveted my self respect, it wanted to turn me
back into that child, caught by chaos and the monster under
the bed. So I turned the second time, I faced
my history, walked into its nightmarish form and believed
in love like nothing I ever believed in before.
The ghost still lives, but like a bug nesting on my shoulder.
I let it nest for I cannot defeat it. It bites,
eats and itches, but only on that shoulder.
The rest of me belongs and is safe
with the vegetarians.
Cutting the Bond
The curtain that fell
fell on me and I was drawn for the last time
to open the casket on the hill.
There I held myself like a figure made of sand,
barely touching but still crumbling my thick features.
My scent was golden that day, and full of storm.
I walked to the grass and thought
of history. I put mud on my lips and laughed
at all I had lost. That I would lose
again – until my memories were sliced and caramel coated,
became something unconscious
like my guilt and my necessity – internal,
branded on my palms.
I waited for faith. I did not cry –
my madness was matured, and peace
Because I love you
like the humpback does its song,
I grow by caring for you
and your unfair burden.
A golden daughter, bells in your hair
and a richness in your eyes. I have
all fortune at my door and my only wish is
to peel away your cloud of illness and brighten
your ground. I only see a fine gem’s rays reflected
on your skin. I only dream of your dissolved chains –
miles around you of only childish concerns.
I hold your hand as we walk the corridors, tracing
footprints down the hospital halls. Your touch
tells me it is for us to be proud of one another,
to be thankful for this gift that has strengthened our bond.
Your touch is music – your words are as old as the sea.
The fire around you
is a bird. It will perch, nest and then next season, it will be gone.
Your journey is into the hail storm. But you will be healed,
and I will go on loving you like I love you
like the humpback does its song.