Sunday, July 31, 2011


This, ladies and gentlemen, is my first sestina. My apologies if it's a bit abstruse... the form took over, and I could only try to keep up with it.

The Summer breathes in rain and limestone crumbs
And nestles in the nettles for a rest
Beneath wool blankets of her heavy peace.
I sought her once, but found my eyes were blind
And feet too young to tread her ancient stones,
The incarnations of the stuff of Time.

But Summer’s chief possession is her time,
The time it takes for sprouts to grow from crumbs
Or walls to churn the weight of their own stones.
So in the pilgrimage that she calls “rest”
I rubbed my muddy eyes that lingered blind
And let her redefine the Irish “peace.”

And on the way I met a man, a piece
Of tender paper passing like the time
Between his brittle fingers with his blind
Routine of ritual tobacco crumbs.
He grinned a “Tóg go bóg é”—take a rest—
And perched to smoke his sculpture on the stones.

And as a child I might have cast some stones
Or at the least recited off a piece
Of dime-store jargon hoarded with the rest
Of my resourcefulness I lost in time.
Yet now I sat a spell to cull his crumbs,
Just old enough at least to know I’m blind.

For if there’s grace enough to heal the blind,
It tumbles down like execution stones
Beneath the slab where dogs can gather crumbs.
And on the coast of Inis Oírr there’s Peace
That soaks the rain of Irish summer-time
And trembles in the wind just like the rest

Of us. And we who take the yoke of rest
And find that mud and spittle leave us blind
May learn to see trees walking over time
(If trees could grow in Cheathrú Rua stones),
Or pass the sacramental sign of Peace
As if the dust were Eucharistic crumbs.

For here time passes like the pilgrim’s rest
And falls like sandwich crumbs that tumble blind
On stones that catch as many grains of peace.


Christian H said...

Sestinas are bloody hard, and yours is wonderful. Admiration.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed. You leave us in the dust.