It is a strange dream
to be a woman, this woman,
ripped out of an other-worldly childhood
into monthly nightmare extremes, and
the mess – the demanding insects crawling
under coat sleeves, pant cuffs, arm cuffs
onto belly and breasts, swollen, aching.
To grow curves and be looked at but not seen:
to be told to smile.
Then to bear the weight of another living being
cuckooing, blooming inside – shifting joints, altering
established gaits, and the hunger.
Being with those you bore and birthed
in every stair climbed, in every sleep, each minute,
never without their beings not beside yours, living
the greatest of all imaginings –
heaven in a hug, tangible in eyes
that are not yours but are threaded tightly to your nerves,
riveting through you – their breaths
more significant to your survival than your own, riveting
like fireworks and famine,
in their sorrow and brightness.
Almost grown, then grown and swinging from
bell-towers without safety nets, changing houses,
destroying rooms, forgetting, sometimes remembering, God.
The love, resonating into cracks in plaster, deeper
than the sound of a million singing bowls, singing, salting
your howl, and the chant of your joy.
They are mostly good, and you learn the lesson hard
that the greatest gift you can give them is knowing when
to hold on and when to let go, and you must let go.
The day comes near fifty when your body begins its final chapter –
starts slow, builds unacceptable,
steals sleep, sanity, your strong and capable shoulders.
No one knows, has to know, but you
refuse to keep it secret, refuse
the nagging misogynistic whispering shame.
Your home is blessed, your husband and you,
still mad, making love, in love, vibrating true to your visions,
a home haloed in struggle and uncompromised ideals.
You meditate, make a routine and stick to it, as this transformation
lasts for years. Sweaters on, sweaters off, heat
first on the face then infiltrating your spine, down, down,
spreading like hot poison, flooding every pore.
When it has gone far beyond the tolerable threshold,
then it lets up,
only to return and begin again.
What a strange dream I have never dreamt before –
to receive the climb, lie down with babes, nurse other beings
into their own, to release the cycle, enduring
the havoc of becoming yet anew.
I should not cry but be praising, grateful
to finally spin a journey in this form.
It is a high road, can be
a life-long sermon, and such a strange dream,
weaving me a pair of wings to flaunt, maybe
never flight-bound but always love-bound and
rich, rich as death, a backdrop
to the pale but pounding pulse of dreams,
the nut-meat, nectar
of eternal pilgrimage.
© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst
First published in “Elephant Journal”, April 2018
You can listen to the poem by clicking below:
Animal Culture (rules of commitment) in progress:
Do animals have culture?
Yes! The great wisdom
of Earth spoke.
And She spoke –
Having faith in God
is trusting God’s faithfulness.
Art either gives what is longed for
or what is unexpected.
The best art gives both, simultaneously.
© by Allison Grayhurst 2018