High Alert

High Alert



I see a fruit fly

on the mirror –

summer is a shallow blanket

lifting into autumn.

The moon has lips

like a shimmering worm,

wet from the rain.


The accelerant-fire came from a lightning blast,

after death, in-between

catching a breath.

The waters rose like a mountain

from a calming surface and engulfed my home whole,

sinking it into the lightless pressure below –

heavy, unbearable, rippling through each cell, each

cell exploding, axed of oxygen,

gasping for mercy in a merciless day.


I climb the stairs – the ghosts of that day

embedded everywhere, in the nails of the old wood floor,

in the claw foot bathtub, and in the dust on the shelves.

My mind rewinds, relives every fragment of horror,

saturating my pores, bloating my heart

with unimaginable panic, again.


But this morning there is peace in the hallway.

There is a sleeping, happy child who has grown

into a loving, dynamic man.

The rug was pulled,

but the furniture is now set right.


Breathe because breath

is all I have,

and this day without the quicksand-seizure,

this day to appreciate a peaceful morning,


to honour my son’s astounding life-force, and his smile

embracing the road ahead, his fighter’s dance,

quick-footed, energetic – a sturdy happiness,

perpetual, more permanent and potent

than the earthquake-eruption destruction

rolling (still visible)

in the wake behind.


Copyright © 2021 by Allison Grayhurst




First published in “Squawk Back Magazine” March 2021





You can listen to this poem by clicking the link below:




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