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Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas currently is enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012 she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018 her book In the Making of Goodbyes was nominated for The CLMP Firecracker award in Poetry. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her new book Alice in Ruby Slippers has just been released from Aldrich Press. Her work has most recently been published on Mezzo Cammin and Verse Daily. She is a former editor for Tule Review and The Orchards Poetry Journal. 

While My Father Sleeps Undead

In the end, I couldn’t hold my father’s
hand, every night his face regal under
the moonlight’s caerulean glow,
a play of shadows on bedsheets

like an interruption of time while his illness
progressed. I kept a journal— a list of consequences
his body had given into. His seizures,
and falls, his wandering barefoot in nearby

fields at midnight, his fascination with knives
and sharp objects, and telling the nurses
they looked like Adolf Hitler. Our visits
to the doctors rendering a litany of remedies

for each new disorder. He became my obsession,
my need to fix what could never be fixed.
And when his lungs finally surrendered,
his breath thin as it slowed within

like a rustling of wings from falling birds,
his urine an amber hue of blood, when he could
no longer lift his head above his pillow
to look up and carp at me for the way

I’d failed to make him well, I realized he’d only
hoped I’d be the hero he thought I was,
the one to rescue him from vanishing into
the unknown. And when the nurse phoned

to say his breathing had slowed, I felt a tremor
run through me, and I knew I’d be too late,
not to say goodbye, to put my head on his chest
and feel him love me again. There are days

I place my ear to the meadow that grows
over his coffin and feel his heart, its gentle
beating beneath the earth, his pacemaker
doing its job as if he’s still waiting

for me to save him.