Saturday, May 2, 2015

Allison Grayhurst: Poetry


Picture at the bottom
tied up in a pit of moths.
The royal crown, life without
a wheel to ride. Paving up the stream
where children once charged down an incline
and jumped into its shallow body.
Instead I am weakened, unable to hold
my breath for more than ten seconds,
lungs, tender with each breath, wounded, flaccid,
but airways enflamed, engrossed with harsh swelling.
Will I die this way? Before my children are fully grown?
Will this be the place, alone, afraid, surrounded by love with
no love able to save me, repair my pulse, give current
enough to dismantle the throne of this disease?
I lay on a bed, under sheets. I know what is tomorrow. I have no choice
but to let go. My children! My husband! My darling loves!
Winter has not yet come – here, but more like spring
crushing my chest, one breath, one breath, heavy liquid
rising in pockets meant for air – one breath, one breath.
The morning has arrived and death is edging nearer. I see it waiting
for me on my neighbour’s roof, patient, not as a predator,
but more like a sea at ebb tide, gathering moon gravity
and a natural motion of force that will eventually drown
whatever remains on the beachy shores, drowning before winter - one breath.
My children are on their own as I am and I cannot stop
this freezing, save them from the cliffs of mountain-burning grief,
prevent them from being orphans in other people’s homes,
holding eye contact briefly with other mothers who love
them, feel for them, but never the way I have loved them.
The world will wax me, carry me across on the path of my heritage.
No one will be alright. Death is never healed,
it is a garment permanently glued, re-shaping the wearer,
taking the light through a black hole, ending the peace of ignorance.
One breath. The sky has changed. It is the last time I will bear it witness,
from now on - hospital ceilings, the insides of my eyes and dreams
of purgatorial pain overcome, of dreaming my children old with children
of their own. Don’t stop dancing, I tell them, don’t watch me. I am sorry.
I can barely breathe. Is God real?
I am holding many hands holding mine; whispers, I love yous, goodbyes.
My last breath escapes me, easier now. I hear singing, sobbing, singing louder.
I am listening, complete as a stone. My work is over. My love is burning.
It is a sun. It is the shape of that song.

My Child

With a mother's lips I felt
the ceremony of the stars
soothe my tired throat.
I felt the sun's fire in my hand
when I bent in the direction of tomorrow.
But my child is like
a choir at my doorstep,
seducing my joy by her own.
My child is without enemies
or days, having no secrets from those
she loves. She can carve a jewel
from a crayon, and with her first embrace,
she sanctifies each morning.
With a mother's heart
I tell the fruitflies of my blessing.
I know that money and mortality
cannot be true, but only
the music in her grey eyes, and the movement
of her small hands at play.

Pregnant After A Death

I kneel for you, for the small
flower unnamed. Within
where apple trees never grow, another
fire catches. I dream of toadstools
and my father's dark warm eyes. I call
you my literature, my sweetest harvest.
And my husband and I, we make notes
in the mirror, we go shopping, holding hands.
We talk of you like a morning glory, we smell the spring
and are proud. We begin to know you
like a separate constellation, like someone
entwined by all these loving riches.
God has taken and now gives, letting
the tears and this blessing take equal hold.

Deep Breath In

Just what is it – a savage distance that swells
between myself and freedom. Shackles and blocked
horizons. The smell of urine and rats like oracles eyeing
my feet, nibble away at the miracle I have found.
I will wait until evening when everything is quiet, wait,
then claim my desire, plugged and unwholesome, fermenting
like the sweet blood of a star, expanding in the blackness,
slaughtering the quiet space, the nothing space of just being
still. Still, I know nothing of, as these thoughts uninhibitedly
dance and drape across my spiritual, blessed awakening.
Bless the golden morning, an arm uncovered dangling
over the edge and fingers, strong and brave as magic.
I’ve lost my taste for distractions.
Just what is it – to live at full capacity, on the verge
beating, violent, powerful and patient
as unrequited sex.

Moments Before Merging

I wait for you, veiled with fear like eyes are
when the body’s on its way to slaughter.
I take your focus into my sterile forest
running through you but never planting beside you.
I am muddied dead leaves and you are
more open than a robe of welcoming
intimacy. My thoughts in the shower - my desires
spread out and flood rooms, rise against
the walls – picture frames, memories
consumed. I call to you. But you are mature and perfect
like a psalm or an ancient turret I can climb up and into –
surrounded by your history. I can shut myself in. I can
wait. And it is you, only, and everything I am
is so tightly woven into this anticipation.

In and out of Spain

Spanish gardens, donkey trails.
Up steep dusty mountains we went, the four of us,
then we walked along rocky ocean cliffs, poking long sticks
in the waves. Whether it was an octopus’ play or anger,
tentacles wrapped tight around the tree-limb,
my brother screamed with excitement, pulled for a while
then let go.

Under surveillance at the corner store, we were
government-spied on
while buying popsicle rockets, licking,
lazily skipping back to the pool. I snuck
behind our apartment building
to feed dinner scraps to the desolate feline strays.

My mother bought us dyed pink chicks at Easter,
chick-feet running across a tile hard floor.
My father brought them back to the market
to face their inevitable doom.

Baby teeth, my brother’s and mine, tied to a string
tied to an open door.

Grandmother with her long
boney brown fingers, her fearful sins and Lucifer
always behind our backs, up elevators,
fueling the first of my many nightmares, and also
my morality.

A white Volkswagen. A massive pinkish sun,
making friends with Spanish boys breaking
bread beside Flamenco dancers.

There was a shark in the water.
I was lifted onto my father’s shoulders,
as he ran fast, past the menacing fin to the shore.

A diving board, lessons in breathing
and earning a swimmer’s endurance,
lessons in lifting my double-jointed arm to gain
front-crawl perfection.

Mother’s blonde and blonder hair.
Everynight parties.

Holland shoes
instead of stockings at Christmas.
Learning math at the kitchen table.
My father’s arms carrying me home
after a late night gathering of strange comic-book creatures,
laughing, making us little ones sit at the smaller table, ignoring
our just-out-of-toddlerhood need for adult attention.

Kindergarten handwriting at Bambi School,
Rice pudding everyday for lunch. Naranja-head,
children pointing, making fun because of my orange hair.
A pencil jabbed into my upper arm -
40 years later, the lead is still visible.

When we drove across the Denia boarder, into France,
then landed for months in London,
I could see my father’s memories coming back, his disappointments
overtaking. Maybe it was because it was in London
where his own father died, left India for, only to die
two weeks later in his wife’s arms,
leaving five children behind.

The first year back in Montreal,
my father started drinking heavily while my mother gave up,
got involved with her celebrity journalism and multitude of friends.
I remember going to get breakfast, my father passed out
on the kitchen floor. I remember
in and out of Spain.