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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.






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 


of nothing.

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.

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