Emily Isaacson

"Discover poetry through the eyes of Emily . . ."

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Portrait of a Young Girl     by Emily Isaacson    

Her aunt gave her mother a bouquet of lilies when she was born.

Her ears were small and ivory, the shape of lily of the valley petals.

The doctor had sat up late burning the midnight candle.


That was how she was known: burning the beeswax at both ends.

The flames of hope were higher. Her long dark hair creased down her back.

Her eyes were as deep as the pools of night. Her friends were fidelity.

They were old souls with bent wings who found their solace in paradise

among the water lilies.


There was a memory of laughter;

it was the humour that kept her straight-backed

even though she had scoliosis.

Sometimes the pain made her mute and

tears ran out the sides of her eyes.

Her mother had always dreamed she would play the piano,

but an hour a day was some form of torture.

She called it her torturous chair.

Even as a child, her small hands

wrapped around the edges

of the wood upholstered seat. And still she said nothing.

She could hang upside down off the seat.

Her mind could walk on the ceiling.

It made sense to her to see everything upside down.

The metronome would tick calmly in the room.

She would write down notes of a scale: semitone, tone, tone in pencil.


When she was older,

there were suitors who sat up as straight as she did;

They sat across from each other

and stared each other down

until tears ran out of the sides of her eyes.

The stipulations around her

were as granite grey as a pirate’s rock,

and they were unsure whether she was a sunken treasure.


The ancient sea

lapped the shore. There was only

the light on the horizon now.