By Allison Grayhurst
Bend down and savor
the shallow water,
stroking out praise like
the wind strokes the skin on a gentle day.
I was in the pit,
closed across the journey,
forming lines, lining up eagle eggs, pine cones
and leashes. Breaking though
irregular dreams that break the edges
and expand in an un-uniformed spill.
My love was lost when I footed the bridge.
My love fell over the rail like a stone.
Its sinking was mandatory as only heavy things can
make a storm or hiding places for surface-crawlers.
My love was my body – left side wracked with aching joints,
steeling the sunlight air, sleep and my swift directed walk.
Goodbye old love that trembled in
survival’s ruthless prison pit, fed on dread and fireants –
skin stretched like a belly that bore countless stillborn babies.
Without choice in the pit, calling a block-square-of-sky heaven
and the starlings that would occasionally stop to land and peer below.
All that love is gone, old, though because once worthy and living,
it is honored for its gifts.
The ground rises beneath me, the pit shortens into a short-climb out.
My limbs awaken and harness the edges where direct light pours in.
The first thing to go will be my heritage, from this life and lifetimes before –
bonds of steely anger, irredeemable deficiencies, those bonds like throat chains
that became like laws that I pulled at, tried to cut or at least fray, now
I blow them away like down-fluff feathers. How soft they have become,
their hardness swelled like shells breached to reveal tender interiors.
I swallowed, and they are gone.
Love, I am learning a freer way of your expression, entering a top layer, climbing.
I am almost out, on a flat plane, almost I can see the treeline, the fullness
of a full skyline of sunrise on one side and sunset on the other,
surrounding plane in a circular scope.
I see dimensions pierced and I know it has always been this way,
no pit, not ever, only this love, now shed of illusion, away from its hell.
I can speak again, sing again, bathe upstream.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three of her poems were nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2015, and one eight-part story-poem was nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2017. She has over 1125 poems published in more than 450 international journals and anthologies. 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. More recently, 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). She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com
Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album. “River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst” released October 2017.
Some of the places her work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; The Brooklyn Voice; Five2One; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Drunk Monkeys; Now Then Manchester; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, morphrog (sister publication of Frogmore Papers); New Binary Press Anthology; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); Chicago Record Magazine,The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.