Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

3 poems by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

On Remembering Cathy

Under the arbor where wisteria hung
from the weatherworn wood, the way lace

camouflages old skin, I used to
watch her gaze across an endless sky

past the living into something unnameable
Those days were borrowed hours, vulnerable

to the heavy silence of death whose presence
was cleverly unheard, gently ricocheting

between clouds. She was lost to stars long
before she loved me. That girl who salivated

at the moon’s glory and the ecstasy of being
an ingénue or at least the idea of something

so pure. That girl who sang poems, who
held the twilight on her tongue, who spoke

of friendship and secrets over every bruised
morning’s farewell, ever lamenting

all stolen dreams and undone desires,
one yellowing gardenia behind her ear.

Even now, I can barely stand the memory
where no arbor stands, where no wisteria

drapes the wood, where over the years
the sky appears even more endless

the absence of her voice, nearly deafening.

 

What The Dying Seek

They said she crept across the drenched
grass; crawled on all fours like a soldier
on a battlefield or maybe a lunatic in search

of cover, beyond the tree-lined sidewalks
and paved roads, alongside the rows
of homes linked each to each, towards

a safe haven, somewhere past herself.
Yet, there was no shelter, no reprieve
or deliberate assassination in spite

of  her attempted escape− that midnight
run branded dementia, with final days
pitied, her failure to find release leaving

her inconsolable until the day she was placed
to rest, where I requested her eyes wide
open, arms uncrossed, hair mussed

and outerwear sullied in homage of her last
pilgrimage,  the war she eventually won;
the soul cheating the body where lives

a place unbroken.

 

Sunday Laments

There are days I think about the way we used to be together−
not so long ago when more than once, you said you loved me.
I still remember how that felt. I knew those words would vanish
the way a photograph fades after decades of growing old,
the way a memory is never right, the way a memory is never wrong

But the hardest thing to remember is how my mother
looked the day she died, her chin trembling each time
she’d take a breath. I called the nurse to come over
to help me bathe her in lavender oil, her body soft as prayers.
I used to tell people I wanted to be a nurse dressed
in all white, eyes full of hope and prayers. I can’t forget
the way she held my hand and said. ‘It won’t be long now,’

I asked if my mother could hear my voice, ‘no’
said the nurse, then sponged my mother’s skin.  But when
we were done, she pulled me near and whispered
‘I was wrong, but I’ve never seen anyone weep while
comatose before’, one tear rolling down my mother’s cheek.

I wept when she said that, and that nurse wept too.
There are days I think about the way we used to be together,
your smile forgiving, eyes full of people you’d loved and lost
along the way. Some days I could see beyond you and me,
I could see all the dreams you’d given up on, buried beneath
your skin.

If I’d been a nurse, maybe I could have saved you a little
bit at a time. Maybe I could have saved us if I’d realized
the end was coming, I could have warned you,
‘It won’t be long now.’ I could have whispered in your ear
and said, I was wrong too, and maybe penetrated some

of the brokenness from all those people who hardened
your heart, one let-down at a time. ‘Here’s a picture,’
I’d say in my dreams, ‘here’s a memory of how we used to look
as children.’ And maybe you’d gaze up with a trembling voice
and mumble how you loved me again, I’d be dressed in white,
the scent of lavender on my hands

 

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is a Pushcart Prize nominee and recent winner of the Red Ochre Chapbook contest.

She has been published in many journals over the years. Her most recent book The Wanderer’s Dominion has just been released by White Violet Press. You can read more about her at her website;www.clgrellaspoetry.com

 

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