Strength has changed

appearance, ends with a mask,

begins with food of only a humane source.


In the late winter I built my nest,

made a cradle from branches and waited.

Now that spring is over and no offspring came,

I consider this cozy island a curse,

feel the heat approaching and have no joy to give.


Upstream, blood soaked in debt and weapons

I cannot wield, weapons

on the floor, by my feet, too heavy to lift.

I embrace the dread like I once did grief – inhabiting

my days with failed effort, trying to dull transgressions,

manage my Sisyphus rock

– push for the prize that never comes – push,

believing it will, knowing it won’t.


My barren longing, unremarkable, repetitive.

I would change my name, my shape, if it would help,

grow plumage where there is none, but my energy is crushed

with clinging, and the freedom that lords before me

like an oasis is only finished fiction,

a book of great magnitude, but

foiled of substance and lasting nourishment.



Copyright © 2020 by Allison Grayhurst



First published in “Chicago Record Magazine” August 2020



You can listen to the poem by clicking below:


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