cell phone self-portrait

cell phone self-portrait
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Latest Poem, a Sestina

For those who are interested, a sestina is "a poem with six stanzas of six lines each and a concluding stanza of three lines. The last word of each line in the first stanza appears as the last word of a line in each of the next five stanzas but in a different order. In the final (three-line) stanza, each line ends with one of these six words, and each line includes in the middle of the line one of the other three words." This is my first effort, so what I have produced is probably just a version of a sestina, not completely true to form --- but it was fun. I encourage anyone who reads this to try writing one. The cool thing is that you discover you have more connections to the chosen words than you might think, and that images and ideas begin to emerge once you focus on the words. I was surprised by what came out of my subconscious as I fashioned this poem, and what I learned about myself.

Sestina from the new Garden of Eden

Today I have set my feet upon a rock
Where things are solid and I can see the sun glisten
And I ask, if I was taken from Adam’s rib
What, then, is the proper food for my soul to eat,
Considering I am carved like wood
Into this womanhood, and I want to run

Like a long-distance runner in a marathon, I want to run
Until my body becomes my own, strong as a rock,
No danger from emotional termites eating into my body’s wood
Until I shine, until I glisten
Until they offer me food and I don’t want to eat
Until I say to Adam I want to be formed from my own rib

Or from the rib of a higher being, not from a man’s rib
As if I emerged from masculinity, as if from that comes my energy to run
Or my impulses, drives, compulsions, hungers, choices about what to eat
Are based on something other than my own deepest needs, my own inner rock
Which is becoming jewelized, a petrified forest log that will glisten
And carry its memories of a former time when it was less glorious wood

When it was primeval, raw, with few rings and it echoed, hollow wood
And its center was all scent and fiber and texture and fastened to the earth like a rib
And there was no light there in its middle earth, no place where the light would glisten
And animals played around it, climbed it, tunneled into it, a safe place to run
There was nothing human for miles, no conversation, no mental rock
No desire, no eruptions, no precipitation, no plans for meals to eat

Before my soul grew and stretched and changed my desire to eat
Before my heart grew stubborn like wood
Before night fell and sun rose and water came from the rock
And the spine of my being needed no rib
Because it was weightless and could slide or fly or run
And angels carried it, carried me, and my soul heart spine began to glisten

Oh and it was glorious, this being-in-nothingness, this one to glisten
This one with an appetite for meaning, for words to eat
For miles to travel, for people to touch, for distance to run
For lakes to ride across, effortlessly, like a hollow wood
For sounds to break free from my spirit’s throat like whistling through a broken rib
Like Sisyphus pushing to the top, without the unbearable struggle, the rock

And I became free to fully understand, to breathe, to run,
Glisten like a rock, seat myself in a ceremonial position to eat
at the wood altar, upon which lies Adam’s rib.

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