Music, waking under my shell.
With warmer faces than I can image
neighbours are gleaming with the peace gained
from daily routine. But I hear music, old,
anointing the dismal sky and the
unused loins of dull-sexed strangers.
I have nothing to dream about – not gold
engraved bands, not hope, not a hoop
for my pedigree to leap through and overcome.
I listen to music that hurts the listener with
its degutting intensity – that hurts, and that is its
reward. Listening to its crime, its deep-throat kissing
death and its making tangible each layer of unharnessed shadow. Here,
music without pride or long-range plan, just old
as the core of a mountain and new as something
animated and beating, undulating in waves like screams
and these dreams I cannot begin to imagine. Music, glaring,
familiar, wrapping around me as though I am a virgin to
its sound. As though I have become, and I have become,
its committed mistress.
In dark peace
my covenant circles me
like a whale could a ship far at sea.
I am watched by a tender eye
greater than the Earth’s orb.
And in the summer, renewal will come
though heat and smog will fill my lungs.
Hope I cannot define, but I feel its
footprint on my belly. I feel the treasures
I have been given like the meeting of a lost friend.
I have been understood, carried to the other side
of death’s all-consuming void. I have talked
my journey through. My night has been named,
and in private gardens I have been shown
the anguish of love.
Caterpillars over the sensuous lawn.
Starlings in and out of clouds.
A man with a cane on his own
trailing the sidewalk curves.
Put-put-put goes the Earth’s sorrow
as the ravaged instinct of humanity is
bundled up in winter’s old furs.
Bending now to the sound of traffic.
A bug makes for the bush.
A dog is unsure of which master to please.
One man lies drunk on his front porch,
as the cherry trees are starting to blossom.
The layer above me is thin.
Above, there are levels transparent
and endless. I hold my breath.
I use the force of arms and legs to swim
up like a tulip pushes out of the earth.
I fear the sharks. I fear the lack
of oxygen. Layer upon liquid layer I merge with
then pass through. When I reach
the last layer it is like any other until
I am through. And there is the crisp, immaculate sky,
the breathable breeze and friends sent
to rescue me, cheering like children at my return.
I am swept between them back to shore,
as the ocean sits like a picture, still and of
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 550 poems published in more than 275 international journals and anthologies, including Parabola, Literary Orphans, The American Aesthetic; Agave Magazine; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, New Binary Press Anthology; The Brooklyn Voice; Straylight Literary 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. Her most recent poetry book, Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press (2014). She also sculpts, working with clay; http://www.allisongrayhurst.com.