Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Requiem for a King's Coronation March


How vast the verdant air seeped to the crux

of cathedral close, rising innocence

as Westminster Abbey’s purple incense

catapults sun into a sky of doves.

They fluttered, blotting golden light still blush,

and with their wings they heralded a new

day, bright with cheer. Yesterday, one or two

stragglers doubted, casting our crowns for us

into an abyss of thought and deed. Smoke

rose as sacred as our naked blue heads

shivering with cold: would mercy take us

with pity into her fold? The sword smote

all fear of the future, thrones in deep reds

were lit from underneath as they were just.


What was the reason we came to this place,

alongside the vast bloodlines, majesty

draping her fingers in a serene pool

where grew the remnants of the Queen Anne’s Lace.

I was picking wildflowers, carrying

them in my bonnet for the table’s height. . .

a poem or two were clippings with light

from an herb garden, fragrance varying

with words undone, yet casualty, each rhyme

of price would droop and die with winter’s frost,

and I could no more keep them there alive

with a black thumb—I could no more grow thyme 

than give a lark flight—its fledglings in moss,

hidden within ringed nest, the rain baptised.


I carried a leather book to write notes,

guarded for a King and Queen, and yet my

frivolous scribblings were nothing, yet lies,

compared to oratorio in throats

of singers, delineating past lands

of royalty who would stand here to be

crowned. Coloured symphonies, tragedians

would even bow, their feathered hats in hand.

All humble commoners took note, blissful

to see a coronation they would stand

for hours under searing heat, space of cloud,

the chorus, loud, soft,  still mingling, wistful

with children running underfoot, and bland

as inebriated rioting crowd.


It was time I grew up to my full green

stature, it was time to write a dark prayer

in despair at falling translucent tears

on earth after plague. All governed clear sheen

of dreams cast light-blue dew on cloak of grass,

society having lost the cloaks off

their backs, now hunched with misery at loss

and fire. The blood of loyalty seeped mass

into the fray of dust and fear. Now hear,

listen to my soft-spoken words of glass . . .

For a time we will enter reunion

with life in the midst of hell. Now, my dear,

don’t tell me you don’t wish for latent tasks

to keep busy, that good days were common.


For a time we are once more nightmare-free,

our chained slavery, blinded, as a god

we pay futile homage to in a mob,

we served without Justice or Liberty.

For long hours the afternoon sun slanted

tall windows, noisy, the street beneath me;

I poured through Emerson, Whitman, and Keats.

There was, like water trickling grey, blunted

from a stone, with deep cooling poignant verse—

the realms of cobalt-pure revelation

in visitation austere, and languid

eyes of a Madonna: her cupped hands, purse

in every gold realm, variation

of plenty, and the earth now turning sanguine.


I stopped in vile terror of a leader

so resplendent that the sage sea married

the shore, the corpse of life now ferried

with the wave of time in blue-black meter,

in salt crashing into its rocky crags,                                                      

with an aggressive tumult at life’s end,

without much hope left to entirely mend.

Yet we would array in vast red parade

the plush side of a splashed pomegranate

hiding beneath a spray of leaf entwined

where sky meets tree, and all fruit breathes in stealth.

The silver bowl now holds its pale manna

as life drains the juice of country supine,

archaic, old blue blood of Commonwealth.


Stay here, while I sing you one last lullay,

country of many countries that in one

dying moment forgot what made its song

live. The Commonwealth sang its lullaby

in dependable rhythm, its nature rung

to princes under its prism-withered eaves

bound-laid beneath its browning lifeless leaves.

Oh, forgotten me and my mother-song

of hovering spirit and milk-white breast,

promised land, honey hospitality.

Breathing iridescent through the curtains

hung with lace against the neck of time, rest

here for a glass of timid lime, cold tea,

bubbling to surfaces of castle earth.

Emily Isaacson