The Virtue of Poetry

Silver: Canada


Your sea was a satin maiden

lashing against the rocky shore;

silent as a muse at high tide,

brimming with tears at nightfall.


Your tide was a wild Madonna,

the shells in her seaweed hair,

white pearls, sewn like dew

over a manicured lawn.


Your beach collected the

ocean’s fury, bleached driftwood

here and there,

scattered crabs and hermit homage.


Your stream was a woman

rejected by modernism,

who tended the cold with silver hair,

and reached out over the wood

like a mist, to water each new and living thing.


Your river held the perfume

of summer, a crucible

of apple trees and lilac,

red and purple flowers and fruit.


Your ocean netted the fine fish

to roast over the fire of

human suffering,

welcoming a messianic figure

in the stillness of sunrise.


Your forest was bountiful

with red berries and fern bracken;

deer and fox, bluebirds and bear,

the tumbling crystal stream

filling the glass pitcher with icy waters.


Your meadow sang

in the heat of July

after the heavy sun patterned

with brocade the melting flowers

in the lush grass, with new lime shoots.


Your mountain played its clarinet:

the wind in the evergreen,

its flute, dapples in the rippling brook,

its trumpet,

summoning the noon from heaven,

its horn, laying low

the valleys after the wind.


Your window had a gentle

candle’s glow in its panes,

shielding off the fright of monotony

and nurturing the spoken word

into nouns of prophecy.


Your chair sat in a tangled garden

high-backed and resin wicker

memorizing the verse of the masters

with a steaming cup of peppermint herbs.


Your evensong resounded

like the pillars of time

rising pure and true

beneath the shadows of the night.


Your battle was fought on a final front,

the fight to the end

for your life or mine—

the witch or the prophet will

take your life or spend it for glory.


Your mail glowed with silver shine,

a truce of metal valor

echoing in eyes grown dull

with feverish intent

to spare one’s own life,

instead of fighting

to man’s dying notion.


Your fleur-de-lis

to raise our arms and heads once again

was a revelation sword

raised for inner dominion

where all kings go—

where kings go to war.


Emily Isaacson, Hours From A Convent


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