swan princess

swan princess


Threnody of the Thistle

Thistle Down

Thistle manor, away off the moor,
here the thistle down blows...
and away lullaby, mother sing,
lullaby to a prince and a king.
Here there is no sense of repeat,
just a mild prickly pod bed,
enumerating the signs
of harvest to summer’s end.
The trees and the heather
all lean like the wind.

Eventually the thistle down speaks—
down, down, thistle moor,
dusting o’er the creaking floor
to the stone gorse garden door:
resurgence from poverty to kin,
from ignorance to education,
forgiving liniment
from within, cold without
from the imminent
moor fog, hazing our sight.
From cradle to Yule log,
burn foolish, burn bright!

Emily Isaacson

Canon of Bloom

Find a door to the garden
repository of bushels of peonies
in fiery purple as pardon,
effulgent contrast to the spicy chives,
juicy tomatoes, and spindly green beans,
continuance after the planting of seeds.
Armfuls of yellow daffodils
are a brilliant surprise at Easter.
Tulips riotous red—
each plant’s color diffuses
with the morning
and rises with the heat of afternoon.

The poplar down blew
over the back fence of
the schoolyard;
I reached for the knobby trees
as I scratched in my notebook.
Herbs, fruits, and flowers
my mother carefully planted, weeded, and pruned,
with an eye for their immortal powers.
A city could flourish beneath this hand,
with prudence. But cities would be tombs.
All for the petals of a brightened land,
canon of faithful bloom.

Emily Isaacson

Burning Cinders

I listened from out the little window
to see if I could hear your song
in the lane,
and when the familiar whistle sounded,
even my dulcet heart gave way.

There was the song of us
that whistled on the moor
before the seasons began,
when we knew we’d be together
even in a foreign land.

There was the wood
that burned dry in the hearth;
I took a coin from my purse,
and counted the face on it
memorizing the moments your touch
reached out in healing.

There was the building of
something new amid the old,
a search for independence,
a need to voice a referendum.

The old country calls me home.
Its architecture has not yet crumbled.
I wave from my window
and write Scottish poems
to the sonorous bagpipe,
the fire, burning, burning cinders.

Emily Isaacson

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