Allison Grayhurst (Canada)
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Four of her poems were nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2015/2018, and one eight-part story-poem was nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2017. She has over 1,260 poems published in more than 500 international journals and anthologies.
In 2018, her book Sight at Zero, was listed #34 on CBC’s “Your Ultimate Canadian Poetry List”.
In 2020, her work was translated into Chinese and published in “Rendition of International Poetry Quarterly” and in “Poetry Hall”.
Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published sixteen 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 December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. In 2015, her book No Raft – No Ocean was published by Scars Publications. Also, her book Make the Wind was published in 2016 by Scars Publications. As well, her book Trial and Witness – selected poems, was published in 2016 by Creative Talents Unleashed (CTU Publishing Group). More recently, her book Tadpoles Find the Sun was published by Cyberwit, August 2020. She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; http://www.allisongrayhurst.com
Too late, in the earth,
dug out and consumed.
A cramp in the thigh you named
your own, the affronted sensibility
of your self-importance.
That cramp took out your uterus,
took your home on the hill
and put you in a basement,
took me out too
of any further equation.
Too far, the fracture thickened into
a chasm, your mind found release
in bold yellows and reds
because it could no longer bear
the subtleties of existence.
You turned a monster into an effigy
of hope, sold justice for titillating fascism.
I am trying to forgive you, accept your death,
the hardened block cell walls of your mind,
once so fecund with inquisitiveness,
abstraction and high atmosphere.
Sometimes mercy comes as a shock,
a rippling destructive wave, speeding, breaking
the floorboards, the ceiling, so there is no recourse
but to run into the wide open, pajamas on, grief
on naked display.
Grief over our desecrated love,
over never knowing another morning
without raw anxiety, with allegiance only
to the immediacy of obvious uncertainty,
loss, the possibility of more loss.
God is on my doorstep
like a swarm of sparrows saying
I love you I love you
I am here
I have been broken by this unhappy year,
still breaking, it seems.
I cannot piece myself together.
God arrives as a blue jay at my back window,
speaks, and I know the past is a finished dance,
In the middle, anywhere,
the Earth becomes a song,
a vision of its collected souls.
As the snake inches forward, then
consumes the still frog, the frog
thinking its camouflage and stillness
is enough protection, but it is not,
as high above nebulas continue to spin and stars
touch stars and explode.
How much compromise is permitted
before love loses its purity, its testimony to truth?
What is the threshold, obvious when reached,
when the deformity is complete and love
melts into a wickless waxy blob,
incapable of sustaining any flame?
In my mind, I am seeing you
as when I was 15, 21, 45,
seeing your dazzling eyes,
the lightness in your walk,
your unencumbered joy, remembering
our summers spent in Montreal, Phoenix, Toronto,
in renewing conversations and camaraderie.
In my mind, I will think of you
as one who has died and is not coming back.
Another spirit gone, to be thankful for
that you once were – like my father,
my many cats, rats, birds, big black dog
and my mentor.
You slipped on the mud, slipped up
and couldn’t return or find the courage to keep on the path.
You detoured into the plastic city, with plastic
placements, plastic bedrooms and digital relationships.
Poverty is hard, but still, I expected
so much more from you. I thought we would take this
to the end together – as family does.
You broke our pact. You broke my heart.
The whole of a heavy high wave has collapsed on my back,
and the once singular flourishing mountain that was us,
has cracked down its centre, nothing left
but a barren flatland –
not a sprout, not a sound, not an insect,
soulless, seedless, dreamless, forsaken.
Forgetful, in exile,
in the fires of failure,
like a story told in form,
a totem-working of visual permanence.
I bore my marriage
to the joyous wilderness in one hand,
and sacrilegious duty
in the other.
Today, I join these hands
to create stability, sanctuary,
creativity touching ground and discipline.
I burn the dead wood, releasing
my prisoner-identity and climb out of
the fishnet into deep fulfillment like
into a valley with a lake and untamed
foliage all around.
The pull and tug of two lives is gone,
tension internalized as useful energy,
as something to be incorporated, harnessed,
the generator of a mature dream – a dream
with no division, bound,
and happy to be bound.
Becoming passes into being,
and heightened intensity
is restored – every moment,
alert and bearing anxiety
for the reasonable necessity it is,
in this time, this coming year
of upheaval and uncertainty.
No joy will every exceed the joy
found when the light restored in your eyes,
and your arms embraced mine from the
hospital bed where you lay in a blue cloak
with tubes and needles, and your mind, finally aware,
your heart, at once fragile with shock and fear,
but vital, perpetual in its outpouring love.
Beautiful son, 18, eclipsing every ideal
with your innate wisdom, compassion and energy,
leaping in youthful courageous commitment, tough
where you need to be, strong and accomplished, kind
like the sun is kind by rising, and the hawk
as it flies overhead calling, driving home the mystery
and the majesty of the dream.
End of the day, relenting,
easing off the mighty restlessness
that overtook the morning
and most of the afternoon.
I know the deeds of my happiness
and the hot flesh branding of my imprisonment.
I know as I held council with the speakers
in my mind – all of them directing me
to wide open freedom and teamwork
to stave off the forces of death
and unrighteous burial.
They tell me it is time to close fast the wounds
that siphon out our power, be brave
as if we were in a deserted city on a mountain
surrounded by a rising sea and shouting winds
clanking their lock-fast swallowing chains.
Hold out they tell me, on the highest tower,
at the highest point, and never
let our trust become captive to fear.
They tell me, even though we look right,
we look left, seeing nothing but sky and clouds,
even though our ankles and knees are already immersed,
as the smells of fishy salt fill our nostrils,
holding our hands above the pressing doom,
engage with God, they tell me.
All at once, the voices tell me,
stand equal, and in that equality,
the light come.
Let us be one and we will know mercy,
stronger than gravity, than all of our bones combined.
The light will come and it will love us,
conquering, alleviating the final struggle.