To Betsy

Be rash and alive in your heart.
The worst fate is not having to die,
it’s to be rolled—like sweat–
between the palms of somebody’s weasly god.

There’s a life’s work
under the accountability of so many wonders,
coming to accept the simple truth
exploded all around us by the joy
of our skin and eyes.

Live at the Finisterre of feeling
if you want to think this world
is better than stone.

See, how it’s your breath
puts the breath in the rock?
That you yourself
are the heat of the spring and the fatal sun?
The more of you shows,
the less there is of you for them to hurt.

Soon, you will stir
as though something had broken
will awaken,
your own kiss will at last accept itself.
It will bruise your mouth
with the hateful miraculous passion.
It’s our one gift.

© Andrew Glaze 1991 from his book, Reality Street

I was alone with my parents for 8 years until my brother was born.  It was long enough to bond with both of them, but when they divorced in 1961 I chose my father’s less transient household as my primary address and we grew even closer. 

I first discovered I was the subject of a poem when an early version appeared in a 1963 Alabama Festival of the Arts booklet called The Token.  One year later, an untitled and improved version appeared in an artisan folio book (Lines/Poems) that combined my father’s poems with etchings by the Colombian artist Umaña. 

For one of the etchings, Umaña came to our apartment to draw a portrait of me. At the time I had goals of looking like a mid-60’s British fashion model. That image shattered when he held up a drawing that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, — not the Disney version, but the original with a two foot long neck.  At the time I was horrified and fled to my bedroom mirror for reassurance, but my appreciation for the drawing has matured over the years.  The sketch now hangs in my home. 

The poem was written as I transitioned from child to pre-teen to teenager.  However, it wasn’t until I dated a former English Major and he pointed out the gentle allusion to Sleeping Beauty/Snow White’s spell being broken by a first kiss from someone of the male persuasion that I finally understood it.  

It has always surprised me that it took until 1991 for the poem to appear in its final version in the book Reality Street.  The lesson from that would have to be, never rush a perfectionist, particularly when his daughter is involved

—-E. Glaze

age1
With me as a baby, 1951.
Property of the Andrew Glaze Estate.

Andy and me at Birmingham Post Herald party Cropped
Birmingham Post Herald party group photo. 1954?
Property of the Andrew Glaze Estate.

photo3
Photo by Peggy Avadon. Summer 1961
Property of the Andrew Glaze Estate.

Andy visited from Miami
Visiting me in Bryn Mawr, PA.  1990
Photo property of Elizabeth Glaze.

Glaze 2
In 2013, he became the Poet Laureate of Alabama. In 2015, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Alabama Writer’s Hall of Fame and presented with a medal.
Photo by Adriana Glaze, property of the Andrew Glaze Estate.

Umana's portrait of Betsy
Drawing by Umaña of Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Glaze, daughter of Andrew Glaze. 1964.
Property of Elizabeth Glaze.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s