A child who doesn’t fit anyone’s mind,
I’m slow at mazes of letters and words,
And know numbers are strange elusive birds.
Tested, my soul proves ill-defined:
“Isabella Robbins, crayon a picture
Of how you dream.”
Purple for the twilight
In room with black box and window of white.
A stick figure stiffly watching the future –
I call it, “I hope I have a good day,”
Written in the teacher’s near-perfect hand.
The pain I draw is like a muted scream
I’ve hid so well no one can understand
How to help, or what to me help might mean.
Next week, in my room, I draw, “I go away.”
British/American poet Marcus Smith has been a finalist for The Cinnamon Press Book Competition and shortlisted twice for The Bridgport Prize. “Isabella Robbins” is from The Great-Great Grandchildren of Edward Darley Boit, a manuscript that takes its name from John Singer Sargent’s perhaps most unconventional portrait, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. (The daughters never had children.) Poems in The Grandchildren… have appeared in Orbis, Envoi, HQ, Dark Horse, The Text, The Journal, Ambit, Weyfarers, Poetry Salzburg Review, Able Muse and Slant and received Plough and Poetry on the Lake prizes. SEZ/everything speaks is forthcoming with Live Canon, London.