Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
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Issue 53, April-June 2014
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
2 Poems
by Faith Holsaert
Followed by Q&A


She, the mountain.
She, the woman. Both.
Outside enters each.

Jenny Linds pool hallsfeist dogs
the holler  

rears twenty-two storeys
shovels the over burden
pops the mountain top  

the holler

She, the mountain

her skin peeled back
within green mountain thighs
razored paisleys
incised high walls in heart meat
pendant above Marsh Fork Elementary

She, the woman
mucosal burn

s. aureus invades her  
Beaudelaire’s fleurs du mal
lacquered topography
intimate IED desquamation

spines of Spruce Valley and Pigeon Roost
her green furred backbones
plateau of peroxided scab 
has scabbed and been picked and scabbed
hardwoods gone
topsoil gone
from holler to holler  
the miscolored creek
and persists

She, the mountain

She the woman
her skin shines
heaves into dimpled necrosis

the meat below
rots away
organs fail

After ravishment the first trees glisten chartreuse. 
The redbud opens from maroon casings. 
Unearthly purple shivers over
entire hillsides. Flowers 
blast the blue red tocsin.
They bloom at the head of the holler 
spill from its mouth.
Within the week blossoms
pale and drop, but will never not return

Like that, she is gone.

[Jenny Linds are a kind of house found in rural West Virginia. They are named for the Swedish Nightingale. A dragline is an excavator used in strip-mining “operations.” It is so large it must be built on site and is wired directly into the national electrical grid. Staphylococcus Aureus is a bacteria colloquially known as toxic shock. An IED is an improvised explosive device used in warfare. Redbuds are among the first trees to return after an area has been deforested.]

Snow Day

inside drifts you go back to sleep
your children murmur on 
beyond the wall
lying in bed you picture
the waterfall road a sheer drop of white
not even a track of your lover
not even a trace of your neighbor

you your son your daughter
and eat
while the heater turns off and starts up again
sift and mix and knead
the dough blisters and is set to swell on the table

you your sonyour daughter
shut the front door
descend the snow-webbed steps
turn up the old logging road

where water has broken through
green moss gleams against white
green pine boughs fan and are quieted

a sudden daytime owl flies away
snow turned to path-wide wings 
snow sound sifting 
white into your mouth

at night
after the bread 
under the quilts

snow dazzle burns negative
your sleeping eye

your snow owl ascendscarbon herald

melodious black 

Faith S. Holsaert has published fiction in journals since the 1980s and has begun to also publish poetry. She co-edited Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC (University of Illinois). She received her MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. After many years in West Virginia, she lives in Durham, NC, with her partner Vicki Smith, with whom she shares seven grandchildren.


Q: If you could create a soundtrack for your poem(s), what would it be? 
A: Lizz Wright and the West Virginia hammered dulcimers of Trapezoid (a group no longer in existence).

Q: You mention the redbud in your poem – also called the Judas tree. Tell us more about the spring flowers that bloom in those West Virginia hills. 
A: I had never seen redbuds until my first spring in MacDowell County (“the nation’s coal bin” once). I was mesmerized by them. They are the first trees to come back after clear cutting. I also love the forsythia and apple trees which bloom on the abandoned homesteads long after the families have been forced to move away and the houses have collapsed.

Q: What did you collect as a child—rocks, insects, stamps?—and why? 
A: Books about horses and horse statues.

Q: Discuss your process as a poet, what sparks a poem and how you work it through to completion (or abandonment.)
A: I am a recent poet, have only worked in poetry for about five years. I began in Durham with Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ workshops through Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind. My first poems, and many later ones, were “after” poems by Lucille Clifton. Often I follow another poet through her language or structure. I worked on a book-length project Firebird, which grew out of my experience of mothering. “Snow Day” was one of those poems. Once I got started, I was driven for about a year and just flew into them. The second year, I worked with a mentor, Diane Gilliam (author of Kettle Bottom), and learned many things I didn’t know about imagery and the construction of poems.