Five poems by Eleanor Gray

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wood-voice,                                I must pass on 
for nothing here knows me 
                               the fog along the ridge of pines

the crow’s song - a tunnel I pass through

sweet other wilderness,
you have formed                                                 in me 
a marriage bond of blue-depth waters

the wolf is

her hoofprints like                                         arrows 
through fields of fern and mortal dusk
destroyed by the impossible,
I live the impossible

walk with me 

through the leafless arms 
of twisting hawthorn 

the blood of a birth 
let no one                             make a fool of my heart
and keep what is yours

mask of the animal
I am 
sharp as the black, wounded 
hearts of brush and black thistle

forgiving my old life,
those past tongues and lands
I walked 
                      and wasted 

my words demand the silence of 
this moorland

where crossroads vanish into 
moon’s silver brume and lapping edges 

a thousand tender leaves swaying
night’s likeness

no name, no body, 
my becoming speaks
through the pursuance of nowhere

forget the voice of distance,

those that would take your spirit
for ransom 

the irremediable, the unredeemed 
hums that which you must leave

as we go through the ruin becoming    


wood-eye weep 

                         in the deep shadows

of your longing

others will hum in the soft patter of 

your broom

trodden by the tenderhooves

of wind’s armored riders

the sweet sea of silver miles

enslaved by an ancient tenderness

                                       to stay

remain, endure

beside you,

I keep a despairing vigil,

no longer finding refuge

in my thoughts 

that old labor, 


to the furrows of a dying field

all that you see, all that can be 

taken away, 

                    is unspeakable

a mask over the animal I am,

nightbirds stretch and blacken

the horizon

timeless doors of earth, 

                     where will you lead me?

failure remakes a creature,

I am not yet born 

the story bleeds

beneath the dying weight

of my master

the hunter tracks his prey
                                      through you,

your heart grows darker

for the dying things,

the wasted and forgotten  

black stagnant pool of 

                     blue-dark depths,

all is heavy with the spirit 

of illness 

everything I am waits for you,

and still you do not come

love, the color of oblivion

lost to the waters

of other

wood-eye weep, 

sing of distances, 

the living notes of painted birds

forgive me, 

                                   I let you go

 mouth of the river sings

                                           back to the sea

the world is [not] alone


moon, tyrant of the sea, may the tides be her bedding

the witch-tongue her means                           to speak

& the umber-furl of pine’s spectral mist 

                                                    her hair        to tangle

unfathomable nightbirds shed 

their tears                                              of the Estranged 

where voids ache in the empty air

come to me, the lilies spill 

                                            from the mouth of mourning

infinitely into every distance

           I am changed  

buried in the dark movements of beloved

the unwritten laws                                        of water

shadow-bringing master, I took, and was taken,

I had to touch, and hold,                 all that was not mine

a hunger that did not belong to me 


I see your pale restlessness              in a sky of thieves

you are like me, 

                             gone, unsung,             forgotten  

made to wander over the sea 

                                  where the fine-boned wind breathes

hold me to my name, the kingdom of wheat

and the shore I belong to  

press the old-woods to your lips and draw meals,

bleeding silver sideways into marshland,

the dark human waters 

                                            of mother  

already, I am part of you 


at the gates of the otherworld, I came 

as human 

                        I begged to descend

the eyes of mine, shadow-bringing,

                     too many dead and buried 

drifting the empty miles of death’s river

night, I say, I have come to meet you 


                                      by her sea-grave

I have with me,                  time I have hoarded

and bundled like wheat 

the woes of a raven 

above black waters & sweet other 


the red          taste 

of betrayal 

twilight washes over the mire and tires there,

in the witch-shade of your hand

let me in 

once, I was wild with hunger 

but the brume rose                                  and I thought, 

I cannot stay here 

                                                         and waste my heart 

being all that you do not want                           nor need 

there is a  nobility in solitude, in staying, or leaving, 

and suffering 

fate of the irremediable, shuffling and lifting and loving 

the sound 

                          of my wings

forgive me of my old lives,

tonight they walk out from me, 

                                            coming out from the shadows

away with their dark horses 

                                                     they are gone 



small, infinite, 

                                far away

full of time 

that will never return

to where breaking                    & darkness

are the only powers 

you know of this,                           deepest world,  

the infinity of deserted blue, blushing fruit, 

incomprehensible moon 

call me by my true, and animal name 

all I love in this world                       lives beyond us 


coming up from the underworld

I recovered a lost language,


the endless dance of water

              sailing through the notes 

of a lyre, 


too much I had wanted, 

too much I gave up 

it felt anything but holy

solace of night sky, 

the hardly moving face of time

I am alone 

the night is errant,

a wounded place

the stars 

like the torches of horsemen

riding in 

to every distance 

the yellow-eyed light

of a darker fear

why should I be

forced to remember?

 creature, dressed, 


earth tells her: return

here is your sorrow 

the red curve of a seamless sea, 

open with the thousand eyes 

summer’s streams

the deep privacy of a wood 

where  spirit horses drink

how sweet the night now seems,

how silent

                stirring the lilies

with a lingering         white dream

the infinite within me 

Eleanor Gray is the co-founder and editor of Figroot Press, and has had poems published in Bird’s Thumb, Hypertrophic, Lit Cat, ArLiJo, Mangrove, Rose Red, Seen & Heard Journal, and Cosmographia.


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