Poem of the Week | January 25, 2016

This week we offer a new poem by Carol Quinn. Quinn’s poetry has appeared in 32 Poems, Western Humanities Review, The Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and other journals, as well as the Women Write Resistance, Hot Sonnets, and Circe’s Lament anthologies. Acetylene, her first book of poems, was selected by Dorothy Barresi for the Cider Press Review Book Award and published in 2010. Quinn’s reviews and scholarship have appeared in Pleiades, The Emily Dickinson Journal, The American Book Review, and Voltage. She has also recently won the So to Speak: A Journal of Feminist Language and Art Poetry Prize.
Author’s note:

In late March of 2013, a snow day was declared in Baltimore during the early morning hours. Schools and universities all over the region decided not to open, but no snow actually fell. Afterwards, there were the usual administrative debates. Did we close our schools too easily? How would we make up for lost time? Baltimore had already had several snow days and was weary of winter.
A few days later, I heard about the death of a teacher in the northwestern Kyber tribal district of Pakistan. On the day that our schools had not opened, Shahnaz Nazli had been shot on her way home from the girls’ school where she was a teacher. Her young son was with her when it happened. At the end of the news video, Nazli’s husband and son engaged in a mourning ritual in which they ran their hands over their faces and held their hands out under the sky.


Snow Day Ghazal

for Shahnaz Nazli


One school empties out, as if for snow.
One waits like an Indus petroglyph for snow.


A spring storm never arrives in Baltimore,
though the air has just the right heft for snow.


Girls sit by windows. They beg to go outside.
The darkness is numbing enough for snow.


The shyest student finally speaks.
Khyber air gleams with its gift for snow.


The students read. Their voices are one.
The wind takes leaves that were left for snow.


A husband says martyr. No one else speaks.
Police kneel at the river and sift for snow.


Carillons rust. Her family is praying,
turning hands to the sky now, as if for snow.