Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 600 poems published in more than 300 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published eleven other books of poetry and six 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 in December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series in October 2014. More recently, she has a chapbook Currents pending publication this Fall with Pink.Girl.Ink. Press. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; http://www.allisongrayhurst.com
The Gift of Fire
Your pale cowardly stride,
hiding from intensity as though it were a pathway
out. Your miniature thumping soul,
bereft of courage or compassion.
You chose to seal this circle of darkness
and kill the daybreak. I want
no part. I want to burn the clocks, wishing
we never met, wishing I never trusted
your dysfunctional loins. But I did.
You graffiti my house with your emotional
crudeness, trading in my clothes to pay homage
on the altar of your fears.
I pray I have no connection.
That I walk this edge focused only on God
and the gift of this difficult awakening. From now on,
you are nothing. My rage is reborn, re-directed.
My pain is a fire that will warm me, warn me for the next time.
No one will touch me until they make it through
that fire. No one will know me.
Rising with the confidence
of ‘no choice’, rising in my tiny nakedness,
cupping equal parts poison and remedy
in broken clam shells.
It was a rock that was tossed that scraped my back.
It was words on paper that went dim because I was lost,
listening for a gurgle, a rhythm
to cherish, to roll in, lull in my mouth – sweet and hard.
God, do you love me? or is it only a dream?
God, love me, peel away this fishnet,
gather me into a single form.
by the sad secret your simple blood
beheld. By the four-winds of colours
that multiplied into your warm and
fanatic fires, into the nudging madness
of your crying sex that landed near no one’s
hearth, that landed alone to thirst the stuff of deeper
things and commune with what must forever
Dance between the clapping jaws
of vicious desires that want your face as
low as your heart can sink, down to the cold nadir
of self-hatred, where lies and needs are one.
Dance the drowned and crazy dance
before the light was scattered, after
each shelter is destroyed and
you are you – an odyssey of
on the high hill where there are no mirrors
or sea for millions of miles. Grief underlines
the logic, saturates the stillness from
up on that hill where you have no duties, no identity,
no dreams. Up there, it is all reality, looking down.
Possibilities are relinquished for facts
and the bread in your knapsack
is all you brought to see you through until morning.
Connection is lost to you. Even the ladybug is separated
from the leaf it rests on, and the sounds
of eagles in the distance
circling ever nearer are just bird sounds and bird business.
On that high hill for now, away from your emotional
element, staring into the monastic ever-present sky –
love is just a word like other words such as ‘dirt’ and ‘cloud’,
certainly not something
to fight for.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A visionary of intricate simplicity –
her mind was a hymn
of starving tenderness, her voice,
like manna to the desperately lonely.
For forty years, away from friendly enchantments,
isolated by illness and the societal conditions
of womanhood, she held her belief intact and found
a kindred grief, a kindred gentleness
living in a man. Living for her,
a love at last, to parallel her intense
devotion. Living for her, a love awake to eternity,
terrible in its purity, saving.
She died one day in the depths
of her lover’s arms, leaving behind
her legacy, recorded by words
of faith and the rhythms of
those flooding fires.