What was the shape of that shelter before you came?
It was made of lost centuries of torment
and sporadic, but deep, connection.
It was more a seed than shelter,
protecting, feeding the blood dream of my ancestry.
Then you arrived and for awhile
we stuffed ourselves inside that shelter
like ying and yang, in zen-like union.
My path was to follow the dolphins – live in the sea,
breathe what I must and be happy.
But happiness was too hard,
I was left wanting the darker layers of guilt and grief.
Your path was to find what was given to you,
to re-claim your privilege, hand-printing the walls
as though you were king.
You took the bed, I took the floor. I paid the rent
and you shared your food. Soon that shelter then become
a fossil for me. And you and I – facing each other
with crossed arms, could not find a common ground.
The boy next door worshipped you, and more and more
I felt like the estranged sister, toyed with though loved.
I took my cat and left you with
the dollar day-old-donuts and the bottled water
you used to brush your teeth with. After that,
my trust was broken. And though we still painted together,
I never showed you my jewels or sorrows.
That shelter up all those stairs, overlooking
the streetcar tracks is now this paper, an inked-in memory
from any valley, flat plain or hill.
Visit Allison at http://www.allisongrayhurst.com.