Ode to an Alumnae Magazine

An alumna waxes poetic about the Quarterly

by Christina Barber-Just

Joan Prusky Glass ’98, MEd ’99, says reading the Quarterly is  like “escaping back into the place where life is about the intellect.”Joan Prusky Glass ’98, MEd ’99, has a stressful job (administrator in the Norwalk, Connecticut, schools) and a hectic family life (married, two preschool-age kids). So for her the Quarterly—especially the class notes section—is her main link to Smith and her former classmates, as it is for many other alumnae. Reading the Quarterly, she says, is like “escaping back into the place where life is about the intellect.” So Glass, a poet whose work has appeared in several literary magazines, took a breather to convey her appreciation for the Quarterly in verse. Without further ado, the first-ever poem to be published about the SAQ:

You, my alumnae magazine,
come to me in the mail
the same four times each year,
yet always surprise me
like tulips emerging
or snow showers in late November.

I pick you up on my way in
along with the other mail
and raise you above my children
who come running to crash into me.

I save you from the inevitable
sweet and greasy fingers and faces
that will take me over.
Then comes boiling water for dinner,
shaking pills out for my headache,
hugging and cleaning and pajamas
and the hours passing.

During cartoons, I sneak away to you.
My hands are baptized in baby shampoo.

I start with my graduation year
and work my way backwards.
Each woman’s life is measured by
new degrees, babies, a move
across the country to start over,
the early death of a beloved husband.
Our maiden names and residences
make up a dialect that connects us.

As I turn another page
I remember opening
those stoic Seelye doors,
those years of gracious passage
they offered me, away
from the Massachusetts wind.

I never noticed how quietly
those doors closed behind me.
Joan Prusky Glass ’98, MEd ’99

Summer ’09 SAQ