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Way back when...


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Long ago, I posted a note talking about a particular form of poetry, detailed the way it should go and then challenged the rhymeslingers here to try their hand at it. I was operating from memory at the time--an iffy proposition for me at the best of times--and got a lot of the details wrong. Last night, as i was half asleep and loitering in front of the computer, the name of the form came to me--i'd been trying to remember it since I posted that note on here.

Once I remembered the name, I googled it and re-aquainted myself with the particulars of the form. At the time of my earlier post, Gabe challenged me to write one and post it, and appropriately so, and i can finally respond to his challenge with an example of the form: the trick is in the endwords in each line, and how they are arranged in each stanza.

Without further ado, my example of a sestina:

In My Garden--a sestina

This storm, that arrived like grief--

and raged all day with the persistence of love--

finally subsided, breaking up at the close of the day.

It left the garden smelling of water, and wet;

only where the lachrymose rain did not fall

is the soil dry: as bones, or a heart's great loss.

It is this dryness, I think, this loss

that stunts the roses, like excessive grief.

Insults of this sort cause leaves to fall

and the smaller twigs to wither, like neglected love.

Perhaps, overhung by the eaves, they need to be wet

by deliberate effort, if not by the weather, as on this day.

I went out, at end of day,

to tally the storm damage and calculate the loss.

The Delphiniums lay tangled, broken and wet,

The deep blue of their flowers, eloquent as grief

Against the deep red of sturdy dahlia love.

I cut them back, staked up those left, lest they should fall.

The air, damp and heavy, felt not like Summer but Fall.

A ragged stitching of crows, another day,

the promise that is no promise, like love.

Larkspur to replace the delphinium--a loss,

But they'll return, as do we all, despite coming to grief.

I will miss their blue, so brilliant and wet.

I sat on the bench we found that once, ignored the wet,

felt it strike through my jeans, shivered in the chill, like Fall...

Thought of what you said, how I had no cause for grief,

How you would return, the time's passage like a single day,

How the joy would remunerate us every loss;

Like spring, you said, is the return of love.

Like delphiniums before the wind, I am broken by love:

dessicated and stunted, I long for you--life-sustaining, wet.

Who will be there to tally the damage, calculate the loss,

Walk through my garden after the storm, before nightfall,

See the crows stitch the sky at the close of the day?

How shall I remain dahlia-sturdy before this storm of grief?

Suspended on the arc between love and grief,

cold, wet, and thinking dark thoughts of Fall,

I set aside the loss and watch the twilight, the end of Day.

--AJS, 06/05

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