Mark Halliday

The Glacier
Issue One
Fall 2022


At Julienne’s restaurant the coffee came in huge mugs as I recall
and the onion soup was in a class by itself and a person could be
happier than expected.  You climbed a long staircase
and entered Julienne’s where the walls had a glow
and sat there with Jessica or with Fred and everything
was young and brimming
and Jessica spoke her funny French and she warned me with her eyes
not to over-notice Sylvia’s weirdly long fingernails
which were a strategy for tolerating her warehouse job
and Fred liked to talk fitness and could laugh
about the factions in our theater group
and the banana trifle dessert was excellent in an unfamiliar way
and a young adult could be despite Vietnam and Nixon and sexism
happy—though the brimmingness gave a ragged edge to our luck
as if to insinuate that lunch at Julienne’s was temporary.

Of Course

Plastic?  Of course!  It wasn’t a question.  Everything was
of course.  When I tried to count how many plastic products I used
in one day I lost count after fifteen.  Definitely I tried, we tried,
to recycle but there were awkward situations—in daily life—

and I flew to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago
on jets.  I thought they flew by magic but it turned out
they burned jet fuel.  Go figure.  And I drove, we drove,
it was great to hit the highway it felt like such a release
as in many great songs not sufficiently appreciated nowadays

and we stayed nine miles per hour over the speed limit
quite cleverly.  Gliding along often we didn’t feel
the tires were really touching the pavement.  Life was smooth
in ways we figured we had paid for.  It was all of course;
there was only a tiny closet in which we kept remorse.

So now you give us that cold look as if from above,
as if you wouldn’t have enjoyed what you accuse us of.

In the Other Room

I could hear Bev in the kitchen singing the refrain
of the big finale number in that Broadway musical (1971)
based on Two Gentlemen of Verona—
“You can’t love another without loving yourself!”—

singing this with a certain quaver or tinge of stress
as if the boisterous show tune was for her
not just a boisterous show tune—

Bev already several years into her doomed struggle with cancer—
she knew the struggle was consuming her energy,
energy focused through so many years so fiercely
on loving people she loved

such as me in the living room distracted by my important
personal concerns not understanding but sensing 
a truth alive and quavery somewhere in the house.

MARK HALLIDAY directs the creative writing program at Ohio University.  His seventh book of poems, Losers Dream On, was published in 2018 by the University of Chicago Press.

Artwork by Austin Veldman.
© The Glacier 2022. All rights reserved.