Restrained: A “My Portrait” Poem


Her soul is bound by the threads of time.

It weaves into her body, piercing yet sudden

And even in its fleeting moment of pain

Leaves a lifetime of scars

Every stroke of midnight it took and

It took what she didn’t know she had

But it’s gone, and she can feel it

She can see through the hole in her heart

But not know exactly what she is looking for.

Time is the bandit that stole both

her heart and her soul

hiding me away from who I was, who she is.

I cannot find who I was as time rid me of it

Before I could even recognize it was there,

As palpable as the heartbreak, secrets and pain

Time has extinguished me with.

Who I was has been replaced with scars.

They say they are proof you have lived

But all I see is a wound that has not fully healed.

With this blemish hiding the pain that once pulsed

I have built my walls,

Which even I cannot tear down.


Originally, I had a very difficult time writing this poem as I didn’t know exactly what it would be about. There were multiple ways in which it could have went but I couldn’t put them into words, so each idea would slowly be scrapped to the back of my mind. The writers block was so severe that I didn’t write something I was satisfied with until the day before my presentation, 11PM on a Monday. I sat down on my bed, laptop in hand, after screaming with Liza over text who simply told me, “Write whatever you want,” a straightforward sentence. It’s as simple as it sounds – write whatever you want… Suddenly I realized what it was I wanted to write after endless searching and always reaching the surface of nothing.

I had always thought hard about what would both connect with my presentation and share who I was for the class, but at this point I was running out of time. Then I came to think… What is it that people fear most in the world? Is it loss of love? Is it the unknown, rejection or even death? To me, all these come with the inevitable passing of time. You cannot escape it. Nothing lasts forever, even if in the moment it feels like it could last a lifetime.

Her soul is bound by the threads of time.

My childhood was always constant. Every year we would visit the cabin with my two cousins who are more akin to brothers, and every year it would be more exciting than the last. My family (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas and I) would get to see my brother perform. Together, my cousins and I would all be struggling with school and life in Calgary.

Having never experienced any drastic changes, it didn’t occur to me that things wouldn’t always be the same. Oblivious to the changing world around me, I became so accustomed to how life was at the time that the shock of everything becoming different hits me every day. Being the youngest cousin of 18 means everyone is either in university, dating, or with a family of their own. Now, I’m going to the cabin with the adults who take pity on me because I have to try to have fun by myself. I perform plays and musicals that I know only my parents and my grandma will be available to see. Now?

I find myself here as a lowly high school student, and the only one left to walk down my path in life. Faced with the changing family that only grows with my second-cousins, I have found myself alone.

Every stroke of midnight, time took what she hadn’t even realized she had and now it’s gone.

From all the heartache, well hidden secrets and pain both physical and emotional, I have been changed. It was a heavy source of inspiration for the poem, one that I am always hesitant to talk about but know it is a big factor that makes me who I am now.

Due to an incredibly toxic friendship that I didn’t have the courage to end officially, I seem to have built walls that shelter me from letting it happen again. Tired of the fear, heartbreak and secrets, I decided to do what was best in situations like this. Now, I am much less merciful when I am not treated how I should be and don’t let people like that stay in my life. I was always afraid of them, afraid of what they could do to me if I told them we shouldn’t be friends anymore. This inhibited me from letting myself be happy, instead living in fear merely because of someone who I knew would pit me as the enemy.

I cannot find who I was as time rid me of it before I could even recognize it was there, as palpable as the heartbreak, secrets and pain time has extinguished me with.

This is why time is my biggest fear, and why I wanted to write about it in my poem. Time has brought me all these horrible memories and yet blinds me from seeing what is written in the stars about my future. Afraid of the uncertainties time brings, I worry that I am going to lose what I have. I was never prepared when it happened in the first place, and I’m not ready to say goodbye again.

No matter how thankful I am for the life I have been given, I so desperately wish I could control time. It travels too fast, whipping me back into my past and inhibiting me from letting go. One day I hope I can accept what life will bring me, like I have with the scars I am ridden with.

All these unfortunate events (although inevitable aspects of life) have changed the person I am. The scars which have changed me are all written in my soul, and I don’t think they’ll ever disappear. Perhaps no longer being who I was before is a blessing, as it has taught me to love myself despite it all.

With this blemish hiding the pain that once pulsed I have built my walls, which even I cannot tear down.


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6 thoughts on “Restrained: A “My Portrait” Poem

  1. Dear Elissa,

    I really love the controlled mastery with which you were able to personify time, and its role as both the giver and the taker of so many of our memories. Your poem was so beautifully written! It provided me with much to ponder regarding the passage of time and whether or not I have truly realized all the blessings it has provided me with. Honestly, if I could have any super power, I would be torn between flight and controlling time. I could procrastinate to my heart’s content without any repercussions! I could spend more time doing the things I love that are swallowed up by schoolwork! If I could control time… maybe it wouldn’t be worth as much.

    Improvement-wise, I don’t think there’s much I could offer. Your analysis was organized so well, and it brought a new depth and clarity to your poem. I also really admire your ability to love yourself regardless of the scars with which time has branded you. Your positivity towards the future, even though your past has left you hurt, is something I hope to replicate You’re such a fun, loving person, Elissa, and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity this poem gave me to get to know you!



    1. Hijab,

      Thank you for providing this insight to me – it’s true, if we control time maybe it wouldn’t be worth as much. I think this will be stuck in my mind, which I am grateful for. Also, thank you for your compliments about this blog! You have continued to make me realize things about both myself and my writing.

      You are so incredibly sweet, Hijab! I’m happy to have been able to talk to you more recently. Once again I have to thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog!


  2. Lovely Elissa,

    I am honestly so glad you decided to elaborate on your poem for the free choice blog – this piece is incredibly beautiful, and the explanation just made it even more precious. Thinking back to the spectrum of chaos and control that Ms. Hunnisett talked about, I can’t help but feel that your poem is the perfect example of the creativity that seems to result from the chaos, so thank you for sharing it with us!

    I agree completely with Hijab; your analysis brought new insight to your poem. Because it was so well organized, it very easy to fall into the flow of the writing. Your voice is also very apparent in this blog, which I think is wonderful – after all, something about the personal nature of the Picture Of… Project would be lost if it was not in your own voice, no?

    I was particularly intrigued by the theme of time in your poem – in relation to improvement, I think you could probably use it to bridge the gaps between the chunks of analysis, perhaps to create more cohesion. This is just my two cents (which you can interpret as “Tarannum grasping for straws because she wants to believe nothing is ever perfect even though this blog may prove otherwise”); even as it is, I think your blog is absolutely fantastic!

    I would like to finish off by telling you that it has been a pleasure to see your writing evolve over the past year. I have learned so much from you, and I hope to see more of your amazing work in the future!


    1. Tarannum,

      Wow, I feel so honoured to hear all of this from you. Everything you have said here will certainly be stuck in my mind, helping me to realize my strengths and become an even better writer.

      Hahaha, thank you for the grow! No, you are certainly right. I will look out for that in my next blog!

      It has been my pleasure as well to see you evolve, and I’ve learned from you too. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this!


  3. Dear Elissa,

    you’ve written about a topic that’s very touchy to yourself, and were thus able to come forward with it, that makes me very proud that you as a writer were able to take inspiration from your life and use it in your writing. It is an important skill to have because as much as we look to others for advice and inspiration the ultimate decision is dictated by ourselves, and when we realize that we gain the ability to give ourselves direction and purpose and therefore place ourselves on the path of greatness. You have beautiful writing a beautiful meaning that presents a not so beautiful topic; its perfect.

    In terms of improvement I’d say don’t mention that you are not good in a piece of writing unless that is the purpose and/or topic, because that takes away from you as a writer. How can you expect the audience to like your work if you yourself criticize yourself in the same piece?

    That’s all I have to say for now.

    yours truly,


    1. Nilave,

      I love how you put my blog into your own words, and I’m glad to see that you found it meaningful! Thank you for your compliments, you are very kind in everything you say!

      As for the grow, I am a little confused. I assume you are talking about the line when I say “lowly high school student” and I wrote that because in my analysis I am meant to be talking about how I feel (and how it influenced my writing), so to me it adds the purpose of my blog. I will still keep your grow in mind when I write my next blog! It can certainly be applied for future writing.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!


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