Early Elegy: Headmistress By Claudia Emerson

The word itself: prim, retired, its artifact
her portrait above the fireplace, on her face
the boredom she abhorred, then perfected,
her hands held upward—their emptiness
a revision, cigarette and brandy snifter
painted, intolerably, out, to leave her this
lesser gesture: What next? or shrugged Whatever.
From the waist down she was never there.



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