I didn’t think I would get lost
or be chained to a contractual victory.
I thought a grain would grow,
become a solid garden. Fires would come, then
firefighters. I would be testifying about
the worth of what survived.
That is not what happened. I fell prey
to the propaganda of affirmations,
to the volume of control I could contain.
My dream dropped out of me
like a miscarriage. I hoped I could forget:
Tie my shoes, zip up a coat
and kiss the shelter I have. Bridges here and there –
they are not mine to travel.
Vinegar keeps getting injected into my bones,
replacing the marrow with
its potent clarity. Do you see? I am getting older.
It will be over
and I have to be able to say I served well.
My mouth opens and folds like a fledgling wing.
People pass – each one a violin note, a digit, a reluctant
panting pitch. Conversations are ash.
I don’t like living in these elements, my neck
stretched up into the dense middle
of a monsoon. Let me climb,
dragging this dead beast behind me.
Let me live where my father went to school,
on a Himalayan peak.
I am not a petal. My courage is fickle, it fortifies or fades,
dependent each day on mutual obligatory infatuation.
I can’t keep pretending:
The sun is strong. The night is strong. I am not stronger.
I am in this hovel with my lamp, tasting metal
of varying textures –
rusted, gold, and other star-erupted symbols –
greeting obscurity, broken toenails
I can’t be bothered to trim. How many rooms, my God?
How much waiting and walking, and the fish?
I could be a fish. Make me
one of those – sliding about, weaving with one full-body stroke
through a lush intricate terrain, mastering
a juicy undergrowth.
The war is a cell divided
against itself, it is
a hatching demon breath,
smoke in the cupboards, a break in the sky.
Drown me in the light and let
this leprosy be clipped.
It pours through the phone line
at a deafening pitch and twists
my flesh like an old shoestring.
My hand is thrust into this insect’s nest.
I am back to the thin branch and the foul
stench of thirst and cruel senselessness.
Back to the depolarized constellations
and the gem crushed by a lizard’s curled-up tongue.
Back to a misshapen childhood
of sibling grief, and the slow, unconquerable gait
of someone else’s money.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 1100 poems published in over 430 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com