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Clay Road

poetry of Emily Isaacson

Poetry Samples










When my back was turned,

my child conducted

the strings, the woodwinds,

and the brass;

her sincerity was stunning.


She had a look of complexity

and musicianship,

her dress from the undergrowth

of the woodland was that of a oil painting.

She was strong and lean,

subsisting on blackberries

and wild game.

In the city, I found her

with a bow and arrow,

hunting a prey that should

be only in a deep wood.


 Emily Isaacson, A Familiar Shore


O true Elder,

O true watcher of the people,

O true gain of wisdom,

O spirit of times past,



O only illuminator

of the three dimensions of time,

(child, parent, elder)



O smoldering smudging burning,

O lighted flame of future vision,



O Sound advice from depth of night,

O Spirit of the ancient’s word,

O Dreamer of the life beyond,

O Wind of legend north,

O Teacher of the ways of earth,



--Emily Isaacson, City of Roses


Swaying in the lazy tall grass,

a long haired maiden

with song

wild as the wind, plucking

the seeded dandelions 

to blow them for ransom

toward the rogue waves,

to the rambling tides.  


An instrument in your hands,

I become the woodwind

like an oboe of Gabriel.   


The pinnacle of afternoon

wafted sunlight through

the slated panes, 

the icons I have observed

since my first renaissance

are kept carefully

in the most treasured

parts of a convent

where love is refined

and truth distilled

to pure

and vivid



How do you show

me the way

on this path,

silver and shining 

by moonlight,

lit bravely

by saints and legend:

all chanting, they surround me.  


I sing of you.


My heart broke open,

and from its hearth stone

a sister took the bread of God,

broken with her careful hands

into pieces.  


I decided to follow you to a new land,

and never leave you.


We walked arm in arm

down a dusty road, my skirts

a plethora of colors

noble and bold,

my hair oiled with perfection,

crowned with English flowers,

white roses revealed their plumage

and spilled perfume

over our necks of silver.  


The people hung over their gates

and waved valiantly from their horses,

cheering at the sight

of our staple covenant,

bright as the meat of figs

falling from a ripe tree

with its constellation of seeds.  


Ruth and Naomi of old,

we traversed from the land of hunger

to the countryside

where the sea winds blow,

where the winds blow in and out,

and from our sectioned window

watch the salt waves.


-- Emily Isaacson, Hours From A Convent


The Queen of Ives is mother of us all.

She doubled over in fiery pain to release us

and each star appeared, burning its way

through the galaxy.

She swallowed the goldenrod, and birthed

each sun and moon.

She grew a garden of vegetables

with food for every season,

grew from her tree olives and apricots, and

from her soil garlic and onions.


Deep within the deepest wood

she hides, as modest

as a young woman

with a velvet hood,

she sings to all who dare hear.



Her sister, the fields,

her brother, the mountains,

her mother, the moon,

her father, the sun—

her wild fare feeds you

and her neck of night

embraces you,

with stars, her diamond necklace.

Her eyes are made of

rock planets that turn to and fro.


The Queen of Ives

is both creator and destroyer

of all nature,

bringing it up from the earth,

then swallowing it beneath the salty waves.



The mighty Queen of Ives—

the earth is her cathedral,

her vast consecrated temple,

she hovers over the altar,

and calls to lovers,

“Come inside and be married,”

coaxing them to unite as family

and have children.

She is the realm of the fertile

in the heart of love:


The stained glass of sunset’s last glow,

the spiritual fervor of a burning fire,

the priesthood, presiding over the harvest,

the ocean’s motherhood,

salty waves of blessing.



Rivet me and my eternal soul,

for I know the Queen of Ives

would dare me to outlive my fellow man;

yet she could not commit treason

against the infinite Prince of Alchemy.

For she is both nature and immortal:

standing, and fallen

as the snow,

she is poured out like rain,

and shouts like thunder.


“Brethren,” she calls: standing in a river

of fear and shame—deep as the Ganges,

“leave your mother and your brothers

and follow the blue moon home

to where the heron flies.”


--Emily Isaacson, Snowflake Princess