Literary Orphans

The Art of Having Loss by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas


The Art of Having Loss


As a child, death came to my window,

held its hands beyond my faith in tomorrow

two branches at a time. Knocking against

glass, it whispered its passing goodbyes

in an unbearable flurry that’s never ended

Sometimes I hold a single leaf to the sky,

test the winds’ strength, my fingers wrapped

so tight around the twig they throb to numbness.

Love is like that.

I lost a baby once. Its tiny heart pumped

for a brief while inside my belly. To fall

asleep I counted breaths instead of sheep

until there was only stillness, my body

refusing to do the work for both of us,

emptied of life and yet I prayed

for another chance.

Love is like that.

There’s no disguising your unfaithfulness

it becomes trapped within your  eyes

each time you  gaze my way. Of being

with you or without, either one requires

a mourning  of sorts and my own self

doubt which keeps me hanging on

to nothing and everything at once.

Love is like that.




Parable of the Couple


When you were close to dying

all I thought of was the horror


of being  left behind.  My life

paused the second your leaving


set in.  And though we’ve moved through

those hapless days I still can’t look


at you without remembering what it was

to know that kind of sorrow.


Last night I dreamt of the afterlife;

freed to a dwelling of empty heavens.


You and me, crisscrossed bodies

overlaid in air, amidst a starry spectacle−


turning towards infinity, beyond this place,

past the inconceivable.  For a few short hours,


pardoned the daily uncertainty of life;

this is the aftershock  of grieving, of fearing


that kind of pain. You have ruined me

in ways I can’t explain.



Behind, After, Next


In my dream I’m wearing my nightgown;

handkerchief yellow, the light twinkling

through magnolia trees, you, reaching through

eternity, one finger

wrapped with forget-me-not

ribbons I tied long ago in double-knots

and the scent of peaches we shared

at breakfast in the shape of tiny

moons drenched in milk…

I remember running past houses,

someone’s hand squeezing my wrist,

the sun’s punishing heat and the sound

of bare feet against blacktop,

the word death being explained

as I lagged behind my mother’s

hurried pace,

and the need to disbelieve bad things

happen in a world once full of grace,

how I couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing

you again. Even now,

every time my hair moves with the wind, I wait

for a second to feel your fingers brush

across my forehead.

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Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is a six-time Pushcart nominee and Best of the Net nominee. She is the recent winner of the Red Ochre Press Chapbook contest with her manuscript “Before I Go to Sleep“. She has authored several chapbooks along with her latest full-length collection of poems: “Hasty Notes in No Particular Order“,  published by The Aldrich Press. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of online and print magazines including: The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Able Muse, and War, Literature and the Arts. According to family lore she is a direct descendent of Robert Louis Stevenson.


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–Art by Marina Ćorić