Hola, everyone. Listen up. Big learning opportunity here....
Yeah, uh, hello? Anyone there? Hello?
Hey! I said "sestina," not "siesta." Wake up and pay attention. Quiz at the end of this.
Okay. That's better. Now, sestina. Don't feel bad. I'd never heard of sestinas either until two months ago when I took an online poetry class. A sestina is a type of poem with a rigid structure.
Here's the deal: six stanzas of six lines each, then a three-line stanza at the end that sums up the gist of the poem. Total of thirty-nine lines in all.
Ah, but there's more.
Each line ends with one of six words that are somehow related. That's the same six words in all six stanzas. But! The order changes in a particular way. I could diagram it out for you, but it wouldn't make any sense. Just read what I wrote below, note the six words that end each line in the first stanza, and then where they are repeated in the following five stanzas. You'll get the idea. This order cannot be changed.
Ah, ha, ha! There's even more: within the last three lines, the six words are used two to a line, again in a particular order. See my example.
The six words can change slightly--verbs can change tenses, nouns can be used as verbs, etc. Before you give up and say this is way too hard, sestinas used to be written in iambic pentameter--which is enough to drive you batty. Battier. Battiest.
Remember, you can't change the order of those six words. So, here's my sestina, and NO it wasn't easy. I beat myself bloody for a week or so, then decided to skip this poetry assignment for the class I was taking. Hours later, some words came into my head when I wasn't even close to thinking about sestinas.
All of which proves one of two things: I've learned how to trick my muse, or, my muse has learned how to trick me.
Stumbling through the Alzheimer’s
Can’t you control him, angry eyes demand
As he stumbles through the flowers. I will
Try to corral him before he tramples more,
even though a scream lies fallow in my heart.
I’m too tired to care, whether about tomorrow
Or what they think. I’m just trying to cope.
I wasn’t made for this, this trying to cope.
My body’s strong but I fear these demands
Will diminish all my tomorrows,
Leaving nothing at the end, nor will
I ever again find love in my heart,
If it’s even in there any more.
He sleeps. A couple hours or more
Of peace and silence, no thoughts of coping,
A time for restoration that steels my heart
To face the ever-increasing demands—
feeding, bathing, and controlling that will
Get us through the day. Don’t think about tomorrow.
What if, for him, there were no tomorrows?
No more showers, no more shaves, no more
Dressing a resisting body whose will
Exhausts my sleep-starved ability to cope
And whose cognitive outrages demand
Something that no longer lives in my heart.
Where did the love go, I ask my heart.
Is there a chance I’ll find it on some tomorrow?
Is it lost in all the mind-numbing demands
As plaques and shattered synapses take more
Of who he was? And now I have to cope
With implementing his living will.
I open his papers and turn to the will.
I brace myself, ignore my leaden heart.
I sign—no more drugs to help his body cope,
But ease him into death on some fateful tomorrow.
He’s forgotten how to walk and talk. Soon more
Will be stolen by AD's insatiable demands.
I dread all the tomorrows as I struggle to cope.
I pray time will mend my wanting heart,
And more: free me from these endless demands.
And that, people, is a sestina of sorts. My very first, so don't judge me too harshly. Actually, if you can get started on one and actually make it through to the end, they're really rather fun. No, you don't have to choose your six words to start--just begin writing and see what happens. Then you can cram--I mean, rewrite-- it into the proper form
Now, for the siesta.
By the way, while these thoughts and emotions were current and valid at a certain time in my life, they are no more. I have healed after all.
Huh? Oh, the quiz? Don't bother me right now. I'm napping.