Original Poetry / Poetry / Uncategorized

Bloom Creative Writing: Poetry by Carol Coven Grannick

With the selection of this poem by Carol Coven Grannick, we continue our series of original fiction or poetry by writers who either published their first book at 40 or after, or who have yet to publish a book. Writers interested in submitting work should see our guidelines.

Photo by Aneta Pawlik/Unsplash
Eight years ago I parked here, right here, this spot by the elevator
on ‘Bing Crosby’ as if it grounded me for the day to come.
This is the song, Georgia, that played then each morning at 5:30
when I got out of the car already sickened, nauseated 
from the moment I saw familiar sights on the drive there
in anticipation
of what they might have done to you overnight—
and always did.
This is the elevator that led to the bridge, 
the bridge that led to the desk where I validated the parking ticket.
This is the ticket that cost too much.  
This is the floor, the second floor, with gift shop and restaurants, 
Vietnamese, Vegan, Greek, Au Bon Pain where I bought 
Cape Cod kettle chips each night to stay awake
while driving home, crunching them, banging teeth against one another
while slow-steering through Western Avenue snow tracks of others.
This too is the floor where I walked up, down and around, 
ascending and descending the pair of escalators each time around
so legs would carry and heart would pound 
for myself and you, 
in bed in delirium on a floor I don’t remember
unless it was 8—yes, it was 8—
with a tube in your throat to breathe
with doctors like vultures saying long term care long term care
as if hungry for some foul and spoiled food.
I walked up and down escalators in moments I hoped 
they wouldn’t notice, but they did, and when I left the room to walk or pee 
they came in to do to you what they couldn’t when I was there.
More propofol. More fentanyl. Keep him quiet. Keep him quiet.
And this: this is the coffee I bought.
This is the table where I sat 
for a few minutes on the many days that passed—
This is not how I sat though, not how alone I was:
this is me being with you now, alive 
you, a little impatient with my memories 
because you don’t have them
you don’t know 
what it was like
or know why even years later I watch 
for the lanky surgeon in his fancy suit
and dream of hitting him, 
hurting him, hurting, hurting, 
hurting him 
until he cries out, 
What did I do to her
I drove in slowly, slowly
foot caressing the accelerator 
at sight of an empty space
and always—was it always?—
at five-thirty in the morning
night shift still there
seven a.m. shift not arrived
pulling right in, into a space
by the elevator on ‘Bing Crosby’
singing "Georgia."
I’d been on musical elevator floors
before but somehow
thought Bing was singing
a bunch of his songs
and that I’d almost magically
arrived at the same Georgia moment
every morning.
It wasn’t until the last day—was it the last day?—
that I realized he only sang "Georgia."
Georgia all the time, on his mind.
I could have come late
and he would still have been singing
the same song.

Photo by Josh McCausland/Unsplash

Georgia, Georgia,
the whole day through.
Bing sang it, and it sang me
into the elevator, and then
the building.
Second Floor
said the sexy elevator voice
which woke my brain into a rage
that sounded like this:
what kind of hospital
has a voice like that on their elevator?
What kind of hospital
had doctors and at least one nurse
who would stand around
a delirious, wild man
and shake their heads
as if there was nothing to find out
nothing to do
no one to call.

What it was to be
was a no big deal surgery
pronounced by the lanky surgeon 
in the fancy suit
but we knew by then
that all surgeries 
can turn in an instant
so reminded him of facts:
my husband bleeds easily
has done so in the past
take note.
We’ve got it:
a response as if to say
we already know, don’t say it again
we’ve seen it in the chart
but leaving us feeling
unheard and unimportant
with harsh winter wind
screaming in the background
as if we had not spoken
at all.

They wouldn’t let me near you,
their ring around your bedside tight
hungry wolves on a dark navy night
with no moon
no streetlights
no lit windows
not wanting an intruder, 
the wife who stood sickened
into dizziness.
I found the head nurse
told her about the male nurse
the one who was laughing 
as he stared down
at my wild and delirious husband
whose fine brain had been eclipsed
—no light shining—
yes, that nurse:
please keep him out
of my husband’s room.
I didn’t notice
my sharp teeth
my fur
my howling at the invisible moon. 

Carol Coven Grannick is a poet and author who writes for the very young and adults of all ages. Her children’s poetry and fiction has appeared in Cricket, Ladybug, Babybug, Highlights, Hello, Hunger Mountain, and The Dirigible Balloon, and her middle grade novel in verse, REENI’S TURN, debuted when she was 71 years old, was awarded Finalist in the 2016 Katherine Paterson competition and Honorable Mention in the 2018 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award. She received a Ragdale Foundation Residency and two Illinois Arts Council Grants for revising and marketing the work. 

This set of poems is from Grannick’s work-in-progress, CALL ME BOB, a verse nonfiction narrative of one woman’s transformation into a patient advocate in order to save her husband’s life after a traumatic surgery in an environment of medical neglect and indifference. Her poetry for adults has appeared most recently in Ground, Bluebird Word, The Birmingham Arts Journal, Capsule Stories, Matter Anthology, Otherwise Engaged, A Moment of Your Time, Red Coyote, The Write City Magazine, and West Texas Review. A number of her essays on the writer’s inner journey, with a focus on emotional resilience, appear online at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s award-winning Cynsations blog, where Grannick served as a columnist until 2020.

2 thoughts on “Bloom Creative Writing: Poetry by Carol Coven Grannick

  1. I resonate to this poem. My own husband’s subdural hematoma. The eighth floor: neaurosurgery floor. Being helpless in Hospital Hell. Not so horrible an experience, a total recovery, but horrible enough. Very powerful poem. Thanks!

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