Featured in Colorado Review
A Miniature and an OrigamiFeatured, Poetry
Published Spring 2011
I determined, God willing, to start off myself when it was day.
—The Jahangirnama: Memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India
One calls off an advisor—
And pursues a rebellious son oneself.
An emperor of India found and chained one such son,
and sewed two bad influences into animal skins,
so as to suffocate
but to humiliate also. The son
lived and paid respects daily to his father.
From the cluttered court several miniaturists recorded
beside this brutality
an occasion of a traveller’s homecoming
attended by a blue horse, a Jesuit plainly
black robed, and an elephant’s bejeweled mass.
Quiz: what is the form?
A miniature, across two pages of a book.
What is the function?
To record in one’s own hand.
One day the traveler returned home.
On a plane with all of its recording devices
I dwindle to my body
and insert my thinking into a small screen
with my ears stoppered up.
Clouds marble, respiration
Becomes swollen shapes on the plane,
lord, on margins of a church.
Of fled eternities, origamis
Of exact breath, folded, fluttering
Tipped by scratches of air, into branches strung
Up and bare above
Loose unused clotheslines.
Piles of those nerves of birds.
A prayer was something a weird woman once
Said, like, “would you like one of these origami birds”
in a sequence of omissions.
All the meaningless naming that comes between
One called Reigned and one called Followed forever,
What it is
You cannot pick it up by its ends, nor by the middle with a stick.
There has been so much spending into human holes,
All the holes obey
the eyes then 02 deprived
I sent out on every side . . .
Withheld by nothing and by no one
Lisa Isaacson lives in the United Arab Emirates with her husband, James Lewelling, and their two daughters. She teaches at Zayed University.