for Linda Allardt Gallasch 1926 – 2021
At Bread Loaf once, on the battering grand,
busily trashing a tall forest of Bach,
his memory ran out,
and eternal actor,
he leapt up and slammed the cover with a bang.
Because he’d a listener.
Someone who sat there nursing a tin ear,
a slight stranger with long blond locks, trim,
with hands folded, who wanted to talk.
That’s how it began. A sort of strange, decorous,
sumptuous half-mad week. “Are we engaged? she asked,
and his abashed humility, ready for any gift,
said yes, of course.
He’d a stern agreement with himself
to stay poor, to stay defiant,
but this cost nothing they could collect upon.
Besides, she walked through the dining hall with long tresses,
chin like a duchess, had a degree in physics,
a promised job, a writer’s gift,
was beautiful, full of spendthrift, brainy talk.
She wanted kids, kitchen curtains,
but was seductive enough
to wrench his wits crabwise off their stubborn footing.
What did he have to offer?
Nothing but dreamer’s backlash!
After the two weeks,
as a sort of epitome of foolishness,
she hitchhiked with him West
down the Hudson to Albany.
As though in a way she approved how he
put the buckle in swash.
Be bold, be brave, and all that, beyond reason.
As for the rest–as for what was
going to happen,
Heavens! Wasn’t this enough?
Weren’t they in their way prepared?
There’s an epiphany in saying as they did,
“How on earth do you know?”
© 2021 by the Andrew Glaze Estate, previously unpublished.
Linda was my father’s first love; I’ve mentioned her before as part of the background story for his poem titled, “Love”. They met at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference of 1948, when she was straight out of college, and he’d recently returned to the States from WW2. Briefly engaged for 4 months, the geographic logistics were not in their favor. She returned to New England, while he headed to Stanford University for a semester, and then home to Alabama where he got a job as a newspaper reporter.
They lost touch, only to reconnect in 1968 when they both had poems published in the same journal. Both had married, gone on to have children and day jobs, and worked endlessly to tweak their poems until they were polished for publication. To that end they began to exchange poems, supportive critiques, and maintain a pen pal friendship until my father died in 2016. I was the one who broke the news of the loss to Linda.
Shortly before his death, Linda dedicated her most recent booklet of poems Under Construction, with the words, “For Andy, for half a lifetime of friendship and poetry shared.” In 1981, he’d already dedicated his book I Am The Jefferson County Courthouse to both Linda and Norman Rosten.
He wrote his poem about her, went through several versions and titles, finished it in 1999, and then never published it. She only learned of its existence after he died when I sent it to her in an email. She later wrote a poem about him and also never published it. (You can read her poem under the main menu “Friends” category.) Theirs was an enduring love and friendship based on a mutual passion for writing, memories of youth, and decades of shared encouragement.
Clearly their lives were destined to be intertwined. At some point in more recent decades Linda met up with a neighbor for their regular fitness walk and the neighbor brought along a visiting friend. Upon learning that the visitor was from Birmingham, Alabama, Linda asked if she happened to know “Andrew Glaze, the poet and writer”. The reply was, “Yes, he’s my brother-in-law”.
This particular social network was how I ended up learning Linda had passed.
I’ve thought about Linda a lot since she died. I have visions of my father greeting her on the other side, standing a bit apart from members of her family who are also there. Eventually they hug and chat, and, after she’s fully settled in to life in her new world, agree to sit down with pen and paper where they immediately launch into literary discussions as though they’d never stopped.
Photo by Andrew Glaze, property of the Andrew Glaze Estate.
Linda Allardt in 1948, wading a nearby creek during the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. After he died she wrote me to say, “there was one small snapshot that Andy took of me wading in a creek at Bread Loaf, wearing shorts and with my hair up in a pony tail—very Greek, somehow. ” She’d lost her copy and I scanned it for her.