A Sestina

Strata

Dark soil lies bare. Plow furrows disgorge stone
tools—arrowheads lashed upon shafts to spring
from bow to bird, grounded in dry leaf bed
of forest later felled and left a field.
The land subdued, nothing remains to earth
but what we, reaping, leave in our long wake.

Chert, flint, and onyx: ancient voices wake
to my touch; smooth, cool language locked in stone.
Layers of time stirred, overturned; the earth
has no peace. Gnawing wind, relentless spring
rains, the plow, disc and harrow strip this field
of life. It erodes, dwindles down to bed-

rock. Distant day shall see the ocean bed
unearthed. Mollusks, anemone shall wake
from ages’ slumber. Fish shall dart this field
through blue breeze as cold sea currents. Though stone
insinuates their forms, the liquid spring
shall swirl them loose, returned from deepest earth

to dance their rainbow flash or breathe mute earth
tones, sea sponge blending with the sand. Their bed
disturbed, the dead rise up. Key to clock spring,
all begins anew. The funeral, wake
and hearse which send us sleeping under stone
are blind to stirrings which scatter afield

all spirits. Lark and salmon swim sky field
and wing the ocean depths. Both hover earth,
shun soil which drags under, presses to stone
all living. Bright green garden, flower bed:
the tremulous, dewed, bejeweled and wake
to hope rise yearning toward sun each spring.

Arrowhead,—-bone knife,—-antler,—-some lost spring
day,—-blood draining from neck,—-thrashing,—-the field
of vision drawn to a point. Still. Then wake
to April anew, grazing the same earth
fed grass, a walking cloud real as stone.
At midday he rests in saucered soil bed.

As water from the stone each self shall spring
up from its bed and live its given field.
We walk earth with the ages all awake.

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3 thoughts on “A Sestina

  1. Saw one of your gogyoka’s on the twitter machine (about the sun dropping into the coin box) so thought I would check your site–or more accurately in this case, sight… This is graceful, almost like music in effect, and perfectly executed, but much more than just a perfect execution in the layers. A classic example of the counterintuitive; how using a form, even a quite rigid and structured form, allows words to make a cage that frees thoughts to fly higher than if they’d been expressed without restraint. Excellent poem.

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