JLC (1967 / Galesburg, Illinois)

Spring Sestina

it’s nearly noon and the sun slices
through the thick spring fog, dark
with winter’s gloom, heavy with fatality:
the spent daffodil’s bloom, the cut
tulip whose bulb shrinks into earth,
the dew worm mining to the surface,

the bittersweet-bellied robin surfaces
through cold air, the flight slices
until stick feet meet warm, wet earth
as eyes scan lawns and ditches dark
with winter sleep, the worm cuts
through to the robin’s charge, a fatality

among spring’s chalk marks of fatality
struck against the papery surface
of birch bark, each stain cuts
into the trunk, rips and slices
death as a jagged feature in dark
congealed blood of waking earth,

she is still there, deep in the earth,
calling her children one fatality,
then another, through each dark
season, sinking down from surface,
still air vibrates, incantations slice
through reality, scrape and cut

to the unknown, slash and cut
to another side of the dynamic earth,
the oblivious hyacinth slices
through, refuses to be a fatality
of the season and sings to the surface,
sun shines on the purple florets dark

with pride, ardent hope, like the dark
winter nights that momentarily cut
south past the equator, only to surface
after the humid summer sweat, earth
taking in her own fatality,
battered by tiny atmospheric slices,

dark proud mares issue youth to the earth,
fatalities quickly slip past yawning cuts,
slices of vitality embrace her broad strong surface

(Winner 2005 Carl Sandburg Poetry Contest, Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg Illinois)

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Comments (1)

Knowing how rigid the rules of the sestina genre are, you have executed brilliantly its structured format here. Although I have thought of tackling sestine, have yet to actually attempt them. Hell, it was @ one year ago when I first penned a villanelle, and that involved myriad rewrites over the course of a few weeks. Thus, given the limitations of the sestina, high marks indeed, Jane. Oh, and by the way, what a powerful envoy.