Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas
A Daughter’s Project / Getting over a Suicide
A daughter is supposed to be cherished,
saved like the white gardenia for fear
of bruising its delicate petals. She is tender
as the scent that travels behind her mother’s
ear where all handpicked flowers should live.
But sometimes she arrives in her mama’s suitcase,
leftover like the midnight sandwich on the bedside
table, postscript or the moon’s reflection on glass.
There’s a reckoning that happens when a marriage
is over. A crass litany of things to share, the amicable
parting if everyone’s graciously aware. But oh
when a parent has died, there’s an unfinished
debt for the nearly orphaned child. So I crawled
inside my mother’s baggage unknowing
a space could be so dark. I cried when the latch
was untied and a spark of light entered through
the keyhole mirrored in my mother’s eyes.
Another day, she would say and primp
my pinafore with a sash of crinoline ties
But most lies are said in silence. I wear a family
heirloom; a golden locket around my neck,
my amulet filled of memories, cloudy dreams
of hope that people never really die. Even so,
I am the remnants of a father I used to know,
who momentarily forgot the scent of gardenias
behind my mother’s ear and the handpicked
flower that lived there, so very long ago.
BIO, PAGE 2
When you’re Most Lost
Remember how you curled yourself
deep in the womb of a mattress, the way
you once slept safe in the hollow
of your mother’s belly; a little being
waiting to be born?.
Remember when you wore the light
from the chandelier like an angel’s
nimbus, your head held high, arms
raised for wings where no gale or breeze
could take you down?.
Remember when you layered petals
from the rose of peace above the lawn
in garden soil and pressed your head
on the flower’s corolla until you could
feel the beauty of spring?
Today you laid down in mourning
on graveyard grass listening for the beat
of your mother’s heart; your ear pushed
hard in the meadow’s green veil…
Heaven exists in the easy pause
After reading Dog’s Death
That someone drove your body
through the heavens though no one heard
you scream gives pause for one
whose bravery went unseen.
Yet I have noted love restrained
to acquiescence in your tale
more remarkable for all that went
unsaid, a death remembered
for coincidence, they called you ‘good’
and then they found you dead. Devoid a cure
or any expletive when dying snuck beneath
a child’s bed, discreetly for the sake of honor
blurred unless the reading renders one
to weep for all your suffering Acceptance
lies in righting everything. But you have
disappeared without a trace and so much
left remains the image of your willingness
to please while those around you
cried, all rules had been obeyed
a dog whose life was good and not denied.
In looking back through every line
emotion feels removed enough where sympathy
might peak, but we’ve been played to focus
on routine which somehow amplifies
the ache of all that’s not conveyed.