Saturday, September 2, 2017

Flood ( A Sestina)

This poem is my first attempt at a sestina. It's a really tricky form but I wanted to give it a go. I doubt I am going to become one of the great sestina poets (hello, Elizabeth Bishop, lookin' at you!) but it was a good discipline to try it.

The sestina form has seven stanzas (six with six lines and the final with three) with a very strict repeating rhyme pattern, represented as follows where each letter stands for the final word of the line.

7. (envoi) ECA or ACE

In my poem, the repeated words are:

A = Sign
B = Ask
C = Hurricane
D = Water
E = Map
F = Flee


Some say floods in Texas are a sign;
Of what, it depends on who you ask.
Brought in fast and deep by a hurricane -
Looking from above, the earth is blanketed in water
Entire towns wiped off the survey map
Posits of recovery variable, for those that flee.

Everywhere, across the earth, they flee;
Bleeding borders, searching for a sign
of harbour in some quiet corner of the map.
Refuge seems so much and little now to ask
where injustice flows like living water
and silences are drowned in hurricane.

The future blows in harder than a hurricane;
the tech ascendant, nowhere now to flee
from the satellites that target over water.
Every spacedust signal is a sign:
Obscured by not knowing how to ask,
how to find the real within the cosmic map.

And yet, and yet, the heart resists a map:
Love and fear a double hurricane
of cone-tight, star-bright feeling; why even ask
why people are the way they are; why they flee
from that which brings them joy, and seek a sign
of truth in misery, of death under the water.

Once, it's said, a god drowned us in water;
Flicked out an enraged hand and cleaned the map.
Eventually a dove came as a sign -
In later days we ride the hurricane
Turn the stove up under the world's bones, and flee
from the questions no one dares to ask.

We get the times we get, and have to ask
what we bring with us to give; born of water,
still mammals in the marrow, even if we flee
the sillage of good earth in our gene map.
Sentience sometimes a hurricane -
All the world is wonder, each falling star a sign.

And the nights hold secrets, refusing us a sign;
No foreshadow of the last great hurricane.
Living never did come with a map.

- Kathy, 2/09/2017

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