Monday, July 26, 2021

Requiem for A Queen's Swan

The wall beside the Queen’s pond was adept

at keeping undesirables out; swans

flew in and landed with their huge wing spans:

enough to break a man’s arm if unkempt.

The eldest woman on castle grounds sat

and watched them every day for silken hours,

her hair was white as snow, her eyes water

blue, as she sat and stroked a long-haired cat.

Her wildest prayers she would enunciate,

and her hands were painfully gnarled I guessed,

she believed transformation was reeling

its answers in the form of art quite late—

the swans were poets: spirits effortless

at self-love, where she had little feeling.


She wrote like the web and was very old,

of a spider’s haunt, the delicate dew

hung from each strand of her mind, not askew,

although her bun contained the wisps of cold.

Elegant swans hated the velvet hounds,

the populace thought they were causing war,

disastrous occurrences, even far

off prophecies had already been found

innocent by church theology, they

only predict the future, not cause it.

Merciless, blood hounds chased and arrested

miserable chaste birds and made them prey;

people of Poland were not opposed, writ

words given up, eating succulent flesh.


For swans are faithful creatures, dedicate

their lives to one spouse, and raise their cygnets

splashing into the waters, calm there met:

their words are harsh and hiss, relegated

to a library stack with fearsome beaks.

Habitual mornings are somewhat poor;

half past seven, they arrive asking for

breakfast. Their host in a house is the meek

Parish Priest, he put the swans under his

protection from the twelfth century’s blood:

it is illegal to harm a swan, white,

black, or any consort—webbed feet, a Liszt

in sleight of hand upon the keys, there could

be no other than the maestro’s bride.


It is treason to hurt or maim molten

swans—played each key with firm finality

and to one soul it resounded teary

into eternity, her one stolen

perfume, that languishing fragrance of youth

when she brought a young blond runaway home

and let her sleep on the couch like a poem

for a few hours into morning. Uncouth,

we lifted our heads in the corn fields, dark

eyes watched a girl running in a sundress

until tears streamed down our faces, music

this beautiful is the texture of bark

on an oak tree, no longer are you less

for living vicariously, physic.


There is one remedy, lest you drive a

swan to its death. There are a host of tar-

black tutus that to the wood ballet barre

exact a pliƩ in sequence, a way

a candle in the wind’s brass bell rings it,

built up to its highest goals’ aptitude,

eventually dies in solitude.

She first bends supple, like a grey cygnet,

in imitation of the older dance,

wrinkled seeds, dancers who have come before,

deep in the ground were rooted and flawless.

Spoken word grows to a thousand’s applause,

green Earth’s oldest tree could not be deformed,

subtle rejection grew its desert claws.


On the dun outskirts of society,

she had suffered every rejection known

to humankind, there was no more wind-blown

morality to impropriety.

Was she now oil or wine, the verse would look;

and the vineyard ran purple with royal

colours, the swollen grapes bursting from toil,

the ground was sandstone and red underfoot.

It was night; the young woman, olive tow’rd,

the sun’s star was far gone at eleven—

in cape, she rang the bell. There was silence.

She would come again, there would be power

reciting by heart an emollient;

she would speak without seeing violence.


A swan’s concerted effort at swimming

is made to look quite effortless, seeming

a quiet glide through waters deep, reaming

at a classroom of old notions, dimming

lanterns with olive oil, lighting the way

by new commitments and new trust in love

that makes us human, singular above

dependency and mentoring our stay

on earth here for awhile: we are alive,

we felt pain, and knew what it was to be

swans and sacrifice for what we believed

in. We went hungry, were unrealized,

we fed the children of tomorrow, sea-

swept lives full of memories, now retrieved.  

Emily Isaacson

Author's Note: 

Emollience adj. 1. Softening and soothing, especially to the skin. 2. Making less harsh or abrasive; mollifying: the emollient approach of a diplomatic mediator.

The Free Dictionary › emollience

Photo used by permission: Armstreet Clothing Company

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Crucified One: Magnificat

The Renaissance would sing of you in blue

and white stained glass, with ruby crown,

the red blood of your body next ran down

to the torment of your outer flesh; you

were determined to die in every room

of the three levels of humankind: sound

doctrine made us build stone mansions, to found

hell, and earth, and heaven. Before monsoons

of spirits conjured up ideals: hours

swept away like old houses and picket

fences, marigolds flying in maize.

Rose-red smile, the dark hair, and pale-powdered

face of evening, Lilith's flow'r, Lilibet's

cry from all lands sounds, pure oil in a haze.  

 —Emily Isaacson

Photo used by permission: Armstreet Clothing Company

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Petrarchan Hymn

The last light fades, for it is winter now;

there is a thorn-pierced shore, within the cove

with waves that overlap the tides that rove

ragged with driftwood, on a distal bronze brow.

The ocean held the saline ship’s bow;

beneath the salty waves the orcas dove

to sandy darkened depths of blue and mauve,

that rose to Magnificat’s undertow.

And the floor threw shells of alabaster

with frequent storm and violent drenches,

the greenest land was littered now with stone.

The innocent hands of trees were master,

constant arms outstretched between two branches

made of the Virgin Mother’s bluest bone.

 —Emily Isaacson

Photo used by permission: Armstreet Clothing Company 

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Our Lady of the Night

She was stone and clear water flowed in shoots,

fountains of joy came from beneath her hands:

her figure, the sacred image of lands

where the Catholic tree spread its deep roots.

A vision: Fatima appeared in woods;  

walkers visited almond marble bands,

the gown that was as mystical as sands

shifting in the desert. The light that should

disperse over her form and the ’spiring pines,

would glimmer in her unseeing white eyes,

and her earthly blindness unveiled the sight

of a thousand angels, ready at signs

of her distress. To her side and her sighs

of pity—the revealing of the light.

 —Emily Isaacson

Photo used by permission: Armstreet Clothing Company