Friday, February 5, 2016

Two Poems by Glenna Holloway

Snow Light
Even in the north
we’re moved to announce, “It’s snowing!”
with a certain inflection, a hint of something
beyond the fact. No strangers to snow,
Viking born and furred to the teeth, we live
with it for months, intimate as lovers,
faithful as hooded high priests at old rituals.

Fragments of frozen water—no mystery in that.
Yet we stare transcendent, watching
its vagaries, versifying its forms.

Streaking horizontal across window
and horizon, how can there be any on the ground?
Dropping vertical and deliberate,
how can anything so heavy be so silent?

Some of us have begun to suspect. Snow is
the ghost of something. Not summer or youth
or things obvious. More likely the plasm
of what we don’t know, didn’t discover, failed
to follow when we glimpsed it sidewise. It flew
across the parallax for an instant, triggered
dormant sensors, discreetly hidden sweat glands.

We never learned its identity. So it keeps coming
back with a common alias. Beauty we recognize.
Cold that can kill. Frigid force able to crack
our bricks, crash our roofs, bury us.

Maybe there are answers in this wild whiteness,
before earth’s soil claims it, before deadness
defiles it. There is a presence here.
The sky is grave dark, storms whip and wheeze.
But look at the light. The snow light.

Chicago: First Lady of the Lake
She moved leanly through Indian twilight,
shabby and unmet, slogging through swamps,
trailing her long skirts through crow-black mud
and the evil smell of skunk cabbage.

She stumbled and fell on shores that bullied her
with dares and promises others never heard.
She lay on the flats in bosomy youth, gazing
blue-ward—high hollow blue, pale-seamed
with deep wet blue, cobalt and indigo
priming the canvas, waiting for a subject.

Waiting for her to quiet her urgent hunger,
waiting for her to find a winter-smith husband
and breed a breed taller and more stubborn
than blue emptiness.  Without first-glance beauty,
without dowry or lineage—a razorish termagant
on Tuesday, demure as dimity on Wednesday,
racy as red sequins on Saturday night
then Sunday-caring through the rains
gone white and heavy on her head—she was
an enigma—fine figure, unfathomable sum.

After her wedding, for better and worse, feast
and fire, splinter and gilding, she took
her time with the art of lady-hood, more earned
than learned, writing her own music while moving
miles of gritty rail cars, tons of bloody meat.

She roughed-in composition with charcoal,
handled palette and brushes her way,
toning the flattering, fuming, prodding blues
waiting for their match, icing and steaming,
waiting for her to model her rising brood
with the back of her hand.  She taught them
to pose substance on air and water,
add warm shades to the mix, close harmony
and rhythm to the minor key chords.  And at last
to put in perspective a million highlights
framing the watercolor palimpsest
accompanied by the newborn sound all her own,
and the light-stretched gamut of blues.

Glenna Holloway’s first and only book, Never Far from Water and Other Love Stories, was published in 2009 by Publish America. Her poems have been published in periodicals such as North American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, The Formalist, The Georgia Review, Confrontation, Saturday Evening Post, The Lyric, Southern Poetry Review, Western Humanities and many others.

Holloway won many awards for her poetry, including the Pushcart Prize, the Milton Dorfman Award, the Heart Crane Memorial, the Illinois Art's Council Fellowship, National Federation of State Poetry Societies, the National League of American Pen Women Biennial, and many others. Holloway’s artistic endeavors include works of art in various mediums such as photography, silver and enamel jewelry, and paintings for which she also received many awards and accolades.

Glenna Holloway (February 7, 1928 - September 4, 2015)


  1. from William Marr:

    Dust to Dust by William Marr
    --In memory of Glenna Holloway

    I see a strand of poetic gems
    coming out of the urn
    twinkle in the bright autumn sun
    before falling into the open arms
    of the earth
    that thirsts for love
    and nourishment

    graceful and elegant
    a real lady from the South

  2. "a real lady from the South" will be very pleased.