ILLINOIS SENIOR POET LAUREATE
Glenna Holloway

LOSING THE FARM


This shaggy hump of land
Comes down to settle at the shallow pond
Like our old dog, paws in his water dish.
The man I married was my father's only hand.
His first job was to stock the pond with fish.
Young Phil was smart. Why he would work for us
Was hard to understand.

He built a barn without
Much help that March my father hurt his hip.
Spring's greening nap resembled sheared chenille,
Our fields embroidered by the tractor's seeding route
Like Mama's bedspread pattern, wheel-in-wheel.
She died that June, then Phil was hired full time.
Sometimes he cleaned my trout.

I asked him how he knew
So much, and why he didn't take a job
With more to offer. Phil said he loved farming.
Before the corn grew ears he said he loved me too.
At first, my father found the thought alarming,
But soon he recognized his stroke of luck--
What blessings could accrue.

And so they did. The years
Were mostly kind, the rains and Phil were faithful.
He turned the scrub to terraces of grapes
Where domes of purpling autumn almost vanquish tears.
Now neighbors' spreads are gone, the city rapes
Its way toward us, my parents' hilltop graves,
And all our gravest fears.

Besides the pond, our lane--
The graveled last-ditch lifeline left to drive
The truck to market, movies, church and vet--
Was just condemned--last ploy to make us sell. The pain
Of isolation's grip, our drought-grown debt
And kneeling crops conspire to push us out
Of our homemade domain.

With arteries now closed,
The heartbeat stops in this uneven Eden.
No mall, no high-tech electronics plant
Compares with tasseled corn, or beaded arbors posed
Against a moire quilt in day's last slant.
Bulldozers quickly level secret places
Where the dog once dozed.

Glenna Holloway
Naperville, Illinois
GLENNA HOLLOWAY, 81, Naperville, well-known NFSPS award-winning poet, is a retired interior designer and lapidary artist and silversmith. Poetry and painting are her current pursuits. Glenna won a Pushcart Prize in 1991 and Illinois Arts Council Poetry Fellowship in 1996. Her sun sign is Aquarius.