Friday, April 27, 2007

Sestina: Waiting

[Poetry Request # 14]

Am going to be in NYC this weekend - catching a bunch of films at the Tribeca Festival - so blogging will be slow for the rest of the month. Figured would end National Poetry Month with something special, though [1], so here's the sestina Space Bar asked for. The envoi isn't perfect - the rhymes are in the wrong order, and the meter is somewhat sloppy, but as anyone who has ever tried writing one will tell you, sestina's are hard, specially when you don't get to choose the six words that the lines end in.

At any rate, here goes:

Where are you? You’ve been gone for hours.
I’m left to sit in the car and freeze.
The streets are dark here, the houses nameless,
shadows yearn for the dusk’s reprieve.
I watch the wind blowing the leaves in a circle,
think of ghosts dialing the numbers

of the dead. The sunset, like an old jazz number,
makes the sky nostalgic, whispers of hours
spent in love’s high noon, turning circles
like birds unaware of the coming freeze.
How strange to have thought desire a reprieve
when our hearts were young and our loves nameless,

to have stared at the stars and thought fate nameless,
exulting in the endless numbers
of our hopes, and asking no reprieve
but a moon to dance by; hours
when the mirrors of our dreams were yet to freeze
into faces, our heartbeats into the circle

of these clocks. Things have come full circle
now. For it is we who watch with nameless
dread while time runs astray; we who freeze
the days into timetables, number
them, lock them in calendars, pretend the hours
are our prisoners, awaiting our reprieve,

when it is really they who imprison us. What reprieve
would we ask for, anyway? Where in this circle
of living would we have time stop? What hour
define as our finest? What nameless
day consecrate, forsaking all the unnumbered
others, letting the future freeze

into perpetual impossibility? Hope freezes,
it is true, and regrets like birds seek reprieve
in a remembered lake, return to a number
heart. Waiting for you, my thoughts circle,
descend warily; until the question can stay nameless
no longer: Are you coming back? It’s been hours.

Must I be numbered among the unreprieved?
The clock completes its circle. Hope dies a nameless
death. Drop by drop, the minutes freeze into hours.

[1] Which is not to say that I won't complete the other poem requests - just that they may be more spaced out.


Shripriya said...

Which movies are you planning on going to?

Space Bar said...

ah...i had thought it was well-nigh impossible! thank you. this is a good reminder that even the worst hours have their reprieves, their own circles of enchantment.

(I shall refrain from using up the other three words just to make up the numbers. oops!)