Allison Grayhurst


If we live

through this hangman’s touch,

outrun this heatwave and find

an oasis in spite of the odds,

then we will be sealed

in the summer of our belonging.

We will take only what we are given

to own, dress up occasionally, mostly

be charmed by sweet and simple delights.


If we survive

the devouring vultures, the

vanity of self-punishment and

the unbreakable natural law,

then our breadbasket will be

overflowing with leftovers,

our hearts will be still in the peace

of eternal love, loving this day and the next

as lovers do, happy to serve,

happy to fill the bathtub

and soak.



This shift is gracious

like a runaway found and comforted.

Disguised as an axe-lop,

as a callous reduction of earned respect,

this shift is permission

for exploration, expansion into

clear waters, tickled by the fish seen

circling below.


I can greet those fish,

each one as an individual, bend my body

and enjoy the details of their scales,

the space between their fins, and their lips,

thick and sometimes scarred

by hooks or other near-disasters.


I can give up my burden, my self-attention

and observe, appreciate their maneuvering

between my calves and shins, over my toes,

curious at these fleshy stumps of mine,

appearing in their home.


I can tell them I am friendly,

a friend, not here to make a disturbance.

I can be motionless for a while, because of the shift.

Because of the shift I am opened, receiving gladly

each delicate undulating swerve,

each nibble, sway.

Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for “Best of the Net,” she has over 1375 poems published in over 525 international journals. She has 25 published books of poetry and 6 chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay. Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album entitled River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst, released 2017.

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