Cinders

Carol Lynn Grellas

It was only a dream I tell myself—

a soft glow breaking through a slivered

light beneath the pulled curtain’s hem.

My mother again, her ghost interrupting

what should be sleep. This time

she’s not in the dream. This time

someone is going through her things,

making piles of giveaways—

maybe the women in the Greek church

will come and collect them,

send her dresses to the poor. Maybe

the neighbors will want her Chanel suit,

her Gucci handbag. I’ve seen them

watching us from across the street,

all the drama the dying make. Nurses,

and paramedics, the weekly ambulance

rides following rounds of accidents,

my mother walking into mirrors

unable to focus, unable to even see

her own reflection. This is the aftermath

of death, the details left behind, piles

of clothes like dead bodies waiting to be

buried, and I don’t want to leave them

I want to bring them home with me,

carry them through the darkness, my arms

so full I can’t see a path in front

I want to breathe a Sunday prayer

into the room, into my dream as if

a tiny bit of life could be restored,

one more minute before an inevitable

ending. If I wear the chiffon maybe

I’ll hear her laugh again, if I wear the silk

maybe there will be petals of daisies

 

crushed in forgotten pockets, if I wear

the dress maybe I can run away

from the impending storm, experience

the soft lining rubbing across my heart,

the scent of her perfume wafting in air,

but they have all vanished now, like old

bones burned in a fire, and I’m awake,

with nothing left but the illusiveness

of the dream like the remnants

of fading stars, just beyond my window.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is an eleven-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, and her poem ""A Mall in California"" took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her latest collection of poems Alice in Ruby Slippers, has recently been featured  in Sundress Publication's, The Wardrobes Best Dressed. She has served as the Editor-in-Chief for the Orchards Poetry Journal and Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review. Her work has been included in the Saratoga Authors Hall of Fame and according to family lore she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.