Monday, 15 March 2010

Evelyn Holloway's Letters to the Past

The following poem first appeared, with the author's permission, on Poet-in-Residence several months ago. For copyright reasons it was subsequently taken off. But now, happily, it's back. It's a courageous work of stark beauty and tragedy. And it deserves to be widely read.
The author, Evelyn Holloway, has also contributed a poem to the Poet-in-Residence poetry twentyten project.

Letters to the Past
- to my father

Like a photographic gallery
or an archive of sounds
you start to fade
and yet
I'm still fighting
the fears you planted,
the judgement you passed
on a life
just begun.

I see you
at the head of the table
reading your paper.
I see you
returning from Sunday walks
with bunches of lilac.
I see you
in your shop
surrounded by shirts and skirts,
coats and jackets.
I see you in the coffee shop,
playing cards,
I see you
on Jewish holidays
saying a prayer and drinking sweet wine
from a silver cup.
I see your big hand
hitting till I fall.
I see you
lost in the city centre.
I looked for you
and took you home.
I see you in hospital
not knowing where you are.
I see you at your funeral.
It was snowing in March.

I hear you
shouting at me to be different,
like other girls,
but there was always this pain in my head.
It made me fall away from consciousness.
I hear you
telling stories about your sisters
who had long hair and brushed it till it was shining,
about your brothers who worked in the steelworks
like you,
about your first wife
who was a tailor,
all of them murdered in the war.
I hear you
in hospital asking, if I were staying in this hotel too.
I cannot hear you at your funeral.
The snow silenced everything.

I still hear you shouting in my mind,
but don't be afraid anymore.
It is over.

c-2010 Evelyn Holloway



  1. A quietly devastating piece,and not a primrose in sight. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment.

  2. Mairi, thank you likewise. And
    I'm sure Evelyn will be delighted with your comment.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.