Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Goodale Park After Three Weeks of Snow (February Sestina)

First poem :)

I read this on Monday night at Larry's, and I like it better after reading it aloud. It's funny how that happens sometimes; I'll have a poem I think is okay, then I'll read it aloud and realize I don't really like it, or I'll read it aloud and realize it's better than I'd thought.

This one started, in February, as a little three stanza poem in no recognizable form, but I realized that I was repeating a lot of words and using a sort of repeating structure, and that maybe it wanted to evolve into a formal poem. So it became a sestina. I am proud of actually finishing a formal piece like this, because I don't do them often, and there are parts of this that I really like a lot.

And I got a nice response from the Poetry Forum crowd on Monday. Or maybe that was just all the cheap wine.....

Goodale Park After Three Weeks of Snow (February Sestina)

It is nearly midnight and I am walking alone
Through what feels like silence but is not
Really silent – the rattle and whir of traffic still
Reaches here, even through a dense blanket
No longer clean but grey and yellow and the off-white
Of curdled milk or dead skin or the rock salt

They pour on the streets. For nearly a month, no amount of salt
Has been able to keep these paths clear, let alone
Reveal the grass and trees hidden beneath white –
Each time it starts to melt, the heavens decree we are not,
Even in this global-warming world, to shed the blanket
Of winter so soon. I stood completely still

When you walked away, feeling the air grow still
Around me, the wind die without drying the salt
On my cheeks. The snow fell like a too thick blanket
On my shoulders and my head and I walked alone
Back home. Tonight the air is thick and dense, knotted
With snowflakes, the wind drawing lines of white

Across the path. I think of last summer when we wore white
Skirts and old sandals and lay together in the still
Hot air, too warm and easy to move. It did not
Seem possible that we’d ever be cold or sad, the salt
On our skin be anything other than sweat. Alone
I turn my back on the park and its dirty blanket

Of snow, alone I enter my apartment, my bed, pull up the blankets
And sleep. I dream you are here with me, feel your white
Legs beside mine, your hair tangled, body covered, one lone
Hand flexing in your dreams. I snuggle against you, then wake, still
Thinking you’re here. My arm curls around what I think is your waist, then, assaulted
With the realization that it’s a pillow, I stop. This is not

How I wanted to be, alone and illusioned. This is not
How winter should be, layer upon layer of filthy blanketing
Snow, all of my shoes stained with salt,
nothing but weariness and empty expanses of dirty white
snow and sheets I refuse to wash because they still
hold your scent, faintly and fading, leaving me alone

to wash away the salt, to learn again to be alone,
to put the blankets away, expose my white
skin to the sun, not to fear, to let my heart be still.

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