Sunday, December 12, 2010

My first Sestina

  Sometimes I swear I can see your  bones
 stretching the skin on your hands
Too quick for my heart to follow
Squinting all of me, I watch you in the sunlight
The weight of this sinks me to the earth
nothing is more slippery than time
Just a blink ago in time
my skin sheltered these bones
 and introduced you to this earth
My finger gripped by your reflexed hand
I accompanied your acquaintance with the Sunlight
so many such inaugurations soon to follow
No harried schedule yet to follow
and a life full of time
You slept incubated in window sunlight
screaming fragility from your prefused  bones
 my cheek enough exploration for your hand
home encapsulating your earth
unsuspendable spinnings of the earth
seasons, solstices, innumerable tides then follow
relentless marching forward of the hands
of dictator merciless time
Hope teases me with wish bones
Grant me your frozen youth in the sunlight
Each morning arrives the sunlight
delivering invitations from the earth
promising sticks and stones and animal bones
luring mushrooming feet to follow
The pledge of a loftier view this time
Tomorrow offers you his  hand
My reaching repels your hand
Nourished by the sunlight
you grow away, not up with time 
My aching shakes the earth 
Soul stumbling, I struggle to follow
the swiftness of your bones

Time cracks open Mother Earth
sunlight bursting from her broken bones
In her outstretched hands I fall low

I was recently intrigued by an article I read about the use of Sestinas by Italian poets during the Renaissance.  I am sure that somewhere in my scholastic past, my brain brushed over the form. It certainly didn't make much of an impression and I'm sure I was never required to write one.  I would have remembered that particular torture.  My intrigue sparked a personal challenge.  I wanted to try it.  

The sestina is a difficult form in which, rather than simply rhyming, the actual line-ending words are repeated in successive stanzas in a designated rotating order. A sestina consists of six 6-line stanzas, concluding with a 3-line “envoi” which incorporates all the line-ending words, some hidden inside the lines. The prescribed pattern for using the 6 line-ending words is:
1st stanza 1 2 3 4 5 6
2nd stanza 6 1 5 2 4 3
3rd stanza 3 6 4 1 2 5
4th stanza 5 3 2 6 1 4
5th stanza 4 5 1 3 6 2
6th stanza 2 4 6 5 3 1
envoi 2--5 4--3 6--1

At first, I thought having structure would make the poem easier.   I was wrong.  It was hard.  How is it done without being repetitive, dull, or cliche?  At least I did it.  My inspiration came from a photo I took of Ansel on a recent hike, but the idea applies to all of my children and my recent identity crisis.

1 comment:

Kaerlig said...

your first sestina is going to haunt me tonight