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
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
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
Mother’s blonde and blonder hair.
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.
Copyright © 2014 by Allison Grayhurst
First published in “blackmail press issue 39”
Published in “Think Pink, Issue 2” Pink.Girl.Ink. Press, May 2015
Published in “Section 8 Magazine” June 2015
You can listen to the poems my clicking below:
“Her (Allison Grayhurst’s) poetry appears visceral, not for the faint of heart, and moves forward with a dynamism, with a frenetic pulse. If you seek the truth, the physical blood and bones, then, by all means, open the world into which we were all born,” Anne Burke, poet, regional representative for Alberta on the League of Canadian Poets’ Council, and chair of the Feminist Caucus.
“What a treasure Allison Grayhurst is. Her gift? To unfold for us life at this intensity of feeling and revelation. Who knew truth and beauty could be so intertwined and so passionate?,” Taylor Jane Green BA, RIHR, CH, Registered Holistic Talk Therapist, and author of Swan Wheeler: A North American Mythology, Swan – A Planetary Mythology, and The Rise of Eros, 2014.