Early Elegy: Headmistress
The word itself: prim, retired, its artifact
by Claudia Emerson
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.