TBT a day late to that one time I wrote a sestina (and to five years ago when I also used it as a blog post punt). Yeah, just the once. Also the one thing I did that for one specific week earned me the WHOLE STINKIN’ FRONT PAGE of my college paper, along with a photo I took (NB, not the stock photo I’m using for this post…). What a wild and wondrous life this is. The real Christmas miracle is that it’s survived all these years with me not hating it.
A pair of skates draw spiral shapes on ice;
a child glides. Her coat shocking as blood
is bright against the steely sky,
a sky that whispers snowflakes to the waiting
ground. The pale sun gives way to dusk
and the girl is called home by her mother.
In the doorframe stands the child’s mother.
She knows the lure (and lore) of ice
and cold and white and quiet dusk,
of wind-chapped lips that taste of blood.
But now she makes her place inside, waiting
for her own, watching the sky
for a sign, watching the slate-dark sky.
It was not so long ago her own mother
stood there in the doorway, waiting,
heat and light pouring out into the icy
night, a cameo in the color of blood
through closed eyelids. This is every dusk,
every still and bleak midwinter dusk,
when gazing up at a spangled sky
sparks a vision, a sensation, and blood
rushes to remember a long-ago mother
in a setting minus snow and skates and ice:
fierce, tired, flushed, waiting.
She’d spent those long months waiting
for this perfect boy, born just at dusk
on an unforgiving night as clear as ice,
and, perhaps, there in the sky
that fabled star. Inside, the mother,
unaccustomed to so much blood,
is quiet. What if she knew the way the blood
would run down the cheek she strokes while waiting
for the dusky eyes to open? She is his mother,
and come that fearful day, at dusk,
she will stand beneath the angry sky
and cry tears bitter as ice.
Here and now, in snow and ice, in falling dusk
the world is waiting under a timeworn sky;
through centuries: child and mother, body and blood.