Palms upward as hands face sky open spaces between fingers relaxing into what has been a time of gentle and harsh scrubbing of the heart. Every inch of skin Brillo pad raw. An exfoliation of what has been. My fists, no longer clenched in tight survival, trust in slow unfurling. Pain tingling as blood returns to fingertips. Learning feet reground my trunk to an upright position, toes rooted past sand into bedrock. Freeing now agile hands to sift through the helpful lessons caught in my soft palms as promises while unneeded thoughts fall through finger spaces to join other decomposing conversations of days when I didn't know listening. Composting the no longer serviceable into nutrients for the new words to come. © Ali Grimshaw 2021
Peeling memories away
layers of lives left littered
one packed suitcase
Back across the sea
buildings without occupancy
echoes through rooms
call them back home
Here they are
far from the familiar
family table and
some are missing
© Ali Grimshaw 2020
“Working together with writer Ahmed Badr, architect and sculpture artist Mohamad Hafez listened to the stories of refugee families living in America and helped shine a light on their experiences. As two former refugees themselves—Hafez from Syria and Badr from Iraq—this is an issue close to their hearts. The result is Unpacked, an emotional multi-media installation where the voices of each family tell their experiences as viewers engage with an incredible scale model of the homes they’ve left behind.”
“Each model, created by Hafez, is packed into a suitcase as a symbol of the baggage these families carry forward into their new lives. As Hafez listened carefully during the interviews, which often ran six to seven hours, he was sketching what he heard. Using what he discovered, he was able to mold their memories into a visual representation that leaves no question about the dire circumstances these refugees faced.”
Unpacked will be on view at the University of Madison-Wisconsin – February 5, 2020 to March 15, 2020.
Can we just hold hands,
stop the world
and just hold hands?
Yours in mine.
Hers in hers.
His in theirs.
© Ali Grimshaw 2019
One day I finally knew that I could swim
in the blue of the sky.
That I was as strong as my declaration.
My fears, teachers made just for me.
That there would always be cracks to slip through
times of trembling, shaken awake to fall again.
Then I stood next to the lake,
a mirror of blue sky wholeness,
arms wide with acceptance
I, the problem and solution
reflection of release.
© Alicia Grimshaw 2019 (rewrite of 2017 poem)
Photo taken on a family trip to Varenna, Italy 2016
Home was a dented silver trailer
simply, without shine inside and out.
The window view of the sea
its evolving colors of cloud and fog
filled her need for decoration.
A square sky painting above the sink
included her in its masterpiece
filled her with belonging
and a soundtrack of constant rhythm
wave reassurance, murmurs of the earth.
Passersby with lipfrowning judgement
downcast looks of pity at her dwelling
would never know her contentment.
She had found her community
between wind and simplicity.
© Ali Grimshaw 2019 (Rewrite)
Spills splattered the walls.
Counters filled with clutter,
multiple piles creating a new geography in the room.
There is a relief to cleaning it all away.
Everything in order. Repair and replace.
The seduction of a new cycle, sparkling clean.
Free from marks of history.
What if we could sit with Chaos
for just a little minute?
Feel the wind in our ears.
Hearing her secrets of cleverness.
To soak in the learning of this undone space.
Before an opportunity is erased.
A past disinfected before she can author her story
from which the plot differs from
First published on Vita Brevis
she wished to glue
leaves of color back onto the limbs
unprepared for season’s shift
then her dormant suitcase looked up
with eyes of grace, a reminder
of past orbits around the sun.
© Ali Grimshaw 2018
Leaves play tag in the breeze
as cars chase green lights.
I am the only stillness
in the city this hour.
Living without permission
no need to ask, “Am I allowed?”
The leaves don’t ask to dance
down the cracked sidewalk.
I grant myself this moment
this sunlight soak before
© Ali Grimshaw 2017
Painted leaves sing in unison
Unlike music, their song
is soundless harmony.
This orchestra of color
soothes the tempo
an internal pounding
from a day of instruments
that refused to play
the same song.
Fall catches me
with muted volume
a serenade of equilibrium.
© Alicia Grimshaw 2018
It is a continual process to unweave
that which is truth from story. I pull
a thread, remove one line, observe how
the fabric changes, notice the new spaces
breathing between essential threads
that remain, a skeleton of existence
until extracting the unneeded
leaves what is left, sparsely resilient
penetrable light of a future once blocked
by memories tightly woven.
© Alicia Grimshaw 2018