Dying Sculptor and On Edge by Allison Grayhurst
A thousand nations
coil within her veins,
within hands whose blood
have slowed despite their
depth and ecstasy.
In her poncho of sunset orange-red,
in her hospital bed
where the dim light looms
through a window on the ninth floor,
she is adorned in conscious resolve.
Conscious of the pain that creeps under
her covers like an unwanted lover, creeps
through her body like a narcotic,
mauling her mind
chaotic and cruel.
Yet with an optimism that rages beyond
her physical doom, she watches
the conversing of trees and stars
from the window in her room, gently easing
in and out of sleep.
Recoiling then seizing the slanted hero
who lacks virtue or self-reproach
but reaches her destination just the same.
In this room where the flies are bent on suffering,
and cruel words ambush you when you sleep,
the dead play tricks with your long-lived grief
and the good light is crossed out like a lifetime
But faith fills the void when you find it,
and know it like an exotic frog’s poisonous skin
or the sky after hours spent in the cellar.
And faith is never found
only once but must grow its wings again
In this room where defeat has clawed into my mind
with the same old tune,
I hold up my head and wait for heaven
to throw me a flame and let
the milk pour.