Resolve to endure until the reward comes for your labours.

I was the seamstress
of Clayburn village,
sewing in serenity
from morning, deep into the night.
I made my living,
never you mind,
but I made it with every stitch
that continued by candlelight.

Not one to be discouraged,
I was never more alive than when
the wedding dress of early love
was embroidered with symbol
and hemmed to perfection.
It was the groom who rose
with the morning and
lit the sky over the roses.

Emily Isaacson


Each ship at sea has a personality all its own.

The sea swept along
the harbour wall,
an immense gray symphony
conducted by the hand of grace
and pattering of feet along
the sand; shore
buffeted its rage with salty fury
pounding sanguine spray.

I was self-controlled
as a harbour wall,
doted on by ships,
dotted with translucent sails,
their handkerchief-white vessels
dabbing salty tears in the blooming
undersea garden. Toward austere
foreign journeys.

Emily Isaacson


Salmonberry Ore

A man must find his destiny in life, even follow his dreams.

I stand in the dust
before sunset.
I am caked with sweat,
beaded with light,
and the valley's eerie parting sight
has illumined and left me alone.
My palms are lined
with doing good, without reward.

But I have no recourse if I fail.
It is just me,
a man against the savage elements,
the north.
Metal is my most desired gift,
and most frightening ore,
shaking scarlet gold
as a salmonberry in my pan.

Emily Isaacson


Spring Door

The new day will always be the awakening of new thought.

Here, I dwelt on earth, but heaven was imminent.
The road continued as an amber
wake of cobblestones
through villages of lace.
A flow’r of morn
entwined through the lattice,
I smelt the light,
I felt the warmth.

As a young girl from
her white fresh pillow,
I arose from the ground.
It was the Lavender spray
I diffused into the room
as an activist of women’s rights.
When women had the right to vote,
I would sleep late.

Emily Isaacson


Red Chestnut Tree

The red chestnut speaks of a pathos released into productivity.

What ring of time
gives significance to planetary measures,
spinning reason
as white gold, like a wreath
of natural solidarity and commitment
to eternal realms beneath your branches.
My child and I took hands under the red chestnut tree
then walked along the roadside.

Her heart was a cloistered contemplation,
mine, a despairing tear, welling
up from pathos.
Could I really worry anymore
that I would not find my way
along this mercy road?
The sweet peas waved
their bonneted heads.

Emily Isaacson

Garden Parchment

Winter’s garden, with its glittering stars, icicles, and frost
became the evening where we gazed into the sky.

Shine, earth, shine
with icy furor
at the evening of my soul,
and the end of my life.
For I have lived many a year,
and now I have turned white
as the winter,
my hair of organza wreathed
with dried papery roses,
wrinkled as a frozen parchment
beneath the snow.

The last frost I saw
kept the colour of a leaf burgundy,
and iced it like a cake ready for the tea,
the sky was dark and tumultuous
as Earl Grey,
the clouds were my line of teacups,
striped, flowered, and fired pottery,
the falling snow onto my lace doily,
the chocolate road
with powdered sugar.

Emily Isaacson


Autumn's Fiery Mantle

A sunset is a prophet, each reading a day’s triumphs and tragedies, stroking them over the canvas of the skies.
When the day settles,
and sun begins to part for the night,
it is you sweetly singing I hear.
The sun melts in the sky:
a cloak of many colors from a doting father.
The meld of the sun’s fiery departure,
spun itself in all colors into Egypt.

The world, with misgivings,
painted its darkness after sunset.
But I was a king of this world,
and the chalice of my wine
could incriminate whosoever I desired:
once a prisoner, now a prophet.
From my mantle of kindness, parts the
oil for his head, anointing every past hour.

Emily Isaacson


Beeswax Candle

Indian Summer 
melted chaos of death
and partings into order, the eventide of life.

One leaf fell across my path:
it was as a first note in a symphony of fire.
I was impressionable.
The trees melded with the cool
into an auburn unlike
the smouldering pit burnings of leaves,
the musty chaos and cries of children,
the soft beeswax candle melting upstairs.

It was eventide, dark was coming swiftly.
No longer afraid of my nightmares
as mistress of the manor—
through the upstairs window,
I let down my hair from its braid
and the lady’s maid combed
my tresses, laid out my dresses,
polished my shoes, and lit the hearth.

Emily Isaacson


Sun Over the Hillside

Go to the place that knows you, as an artist returns to their medium.

Take off for the fields—
let your skirts gather the wildflowers
where the circle of the sun meets the earth
and canters ’round its pasture.
Find that great horse of light
steadied beneath her hand,
a master painter’s impressionist
dewy breath into the morning’s fog.

She lifted her hand again,
a conjurer of ink and paint,
and the rays became a white stallion
with a mane of gold vermillion.
He appears when the light sears
through the cloud, thoroughbred and proud,
he gallops with the wind,
he stands at last light upon the field.

Emily Isaacson

Sweet Chestnut

She poured the water where her mind was deepest.

The solid sweet chestnut washstand
held the porcelain bowl
where she poured the water
and dipped her handkerchief.
The purity of grief
wiped her tears; where love 
would not suffice, and she could not go on,
there was hard work and wages.

she would plunge down and down
under the waves
and her hair would surface first,
hemming about, with gold flecks
still in her seams, and sides.
The motherload would ring
in her shallows, and haunt her depths.

Emily Isaacson


The Vale from Wildflowers to Seed

Every woman who has both birthed and buried a child
knows grief from the inside out.

I took a brush,
and stoked the rose gold as a fiery ember,
painted the sweet scented way.
All through each vale,
and ripened meadow,
lithe with the lace of the fields,
I filled my straw hat to the brim
with watercolor wildflowers.

I meandered along in this life,
meaning to tell you how I felt
eventually, while you were
carried at birth,
with a soft downy head
like a seed pod blowing in the wind,
and again over the churchyard.
Your body, now aged, laid down.

Emily Isaacson



A stream of fine perfume flows from the crystal decanters.

The forest threw back its evergreen shoulders
with a throaty laugh,
and I disappeared into its sun-drenched
shadowy fronds;
the ways of the streams
became the vervain pathways of my heart,
the moss became my blanket,
the ferns, my pillow.

I had left the reason behind
that I needed a brick and mortar home,
a fireplace, and a kettle.
For I was warm, in this missionary zeal,
beneath the branches of religion.
Only summer’s day could mend this;
no rain or snow could fall
and drive me back beneath the eaves.

Emily Isaacson



The moment of noon, when the sun was high, was summer’s cherished bounty.

I sat out on the point on a picnic blanket
and watched the kites high in the sky,
swooning, tasting the light;
children held the long strings whose
wind dancers fluttered with the currents.
The seagulls over the shore
gave a raucous cry of recognition,
and tried to fly as high as the break of color.

Two women sat on a bench in Nantucket
with a thermos of cold tea.
They were old friends, and had come here often.
The water and the green
were a soothing patchwork, lulling the point
into stupor on the warm afternoon.
“Let’s not forget this,” they said,
their memories catching each other by surprise.

Emily Isaacson


Vine Chorus

A name is a gift we carry through life, unlike a blessing of legacy.

How in singing, we are like thee
blessed Saviour, 
cherished as our eternal home, 
carried through life.
We follow you, as our shepherd
in the paths of your heart,
wandering no further than your crook
would lead us to drink.

Heaven awaits the children
who long after thee;
the vines entwine your door.
A father’s arms are open
to those who seek thee.
Your precious care of us
keeps us in this world.
Allelu, Alleluiah.

Emily Isaacson


Proverbial Awakening

The order of morning was the spring of the earth, papery with fragrance.

There were paper blossoms
on the spring trees
that lined the boulevard;
a woman pushed a baby in her tram.
An older woman turned her head,
but the moment of criticism had passed,
for babies in trams had been ordained 
by Queen Victoria, written meekly.

A pair of sweethearts strolled
hand in hand along the inner harbour
where a horse-drawn carriage passed,
his smile was a grin and her eyes were bright—
the color of sea water
when imbued by light at the horizon.
They were in the city of honeymoons, 
flowers, and beeshumming, entwining sweetly.

Emily Isaacson



All things need to be cared for, and from birth to death, we are unprepared for the commitment of upkeep.

There was an inner rhythm,
unlike the seashore on a summer’s night,
and it caught me off guard—
I could touch the sand barefoot,
and reach the sky,
but my starched nightgown met my chin
and birth was something
I was unprepared for.

There was a blue plate with a fillet
and walnut ginger glaze,
only my silver spoons painted it
instead, dabbling in the acrylic, beguiling
the white empty space. And whenever
something appeared that had not been before,
it pained me to carry it from the outset
to its eventual death and metamorphosis.

Emily Isaacson



For we must all have reason; and reason will not leave us limitless.

There is no thief
that traverses the night by darkness;
he cannot find the door
to sell my wares.
My soul is no stale hind of rye,
no lime rind shall grace my table.
For I wear a mask in a masquerade,
and my gilded heart is beckoned

By a brass lantern
the light that shines,
ever sweeping o'er the sea,
the light that shines on me
lighthouse biding each ship obedience,
the gulf of night opening its dark mouth.
For we are only one step ahead
of the Filipino street child.

Emily Isaacson


Water Violet

The door to inspiration remains open as long as we cannot control.

Order the days, of thought, memory,
and nature: reap draughts of fresh inspiration
from the mahogany sideboard,
where the English china abides whitely
in the shallows.
Pour the Yorkshire tea 
and remembrance, the star quilt
of first birth.

Here, rare collections adorn
our minds, while our souls search
for elegant traditional recipes—
jubilee cake, cranberry scones,
and spice cookies.
The apron of authentic
cuisine repeats upon
our memory.

Emily Isaacson


Little Goose

The night comes softly, and tucks each little one under the eiderdown.

At last I have found you:
your hand-mirror framing curls,
the bright crinkle dress
shimmering like silk—
one of the gowns of a young princess.
In aqua and lavender
the sun melts over the hills,
dusty with the heat of day—

And then, with the moon’s advent
the necklace of beads
is lovingly placed
in an old jewelry box.
Through the window
I can see the wild goose garden
where the pond reflects
the house lights.

Kiss goodnight,
little goose.

Emily Isaacson


White Chestnut

Free the birds to prophesy; fly like a bird.

The feathery bars of a cage
pronounced order from the smoky chaos 
of fires on the hillside; call me home
and I’ll become a ray
that slips through the stark white bars
and disappears.
The moon rising in a half sliver
was red, and called me freedom.

I rose into the smoke and ash,
between the sun and the moon
as a pheasant would,
golden plumed,
primed to recall
all beauty for mourning
with a sweet voice, lilting trill:
no cage can hold this song.

Emily Isaacson