Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Poem a Day #3

A Kind of Courage
What kind of courage is it?
The anxious, scary kind,
the pottery on her aunt’s shelf in turquoise blue
chipped on the rim, well-worn and loved
through three generations and now you are responsible
for keeping it safe, handling it to save your life.
What kind of fool takes their life
and leaps into their unfamiliar? It’s
a congested kind of dust responsible
for new allergies, a woman who never knew the kinds
of desert plants that would settle her into love
of chamisa, blooming yucca, cactus, pinon, juniper and that incredible blue
sky, blue hovering sadness, blue
disappearing into the Great Lakes. Her life
out of the fog of waiting. How she loved
seeing Dad at the kitchen table, six am, it
was him alone, eating breakfast cereal, kindness
in his hands as she joined him, responsible
for getting up for school, responsible
with Mom and brother still in bed, her blue
eyes join his dream world of the working trucks, kinds
of home calling her away even then. Life
someday giving her offices, cubicles, typewriters, it
never stopped with just carbon paper and blue stencils loved
by her Mom’s church secretary upper office, love
of the smell of mimeographed bulletins responsible
for news and prayer chains and the next holy season, it
churns them out around the wheel of yellow, blue,
purple, pink and red.  She waits for her life
to arrive at the front steps, waits for the boy on the motorcycle, kind
of coming to pick her up, where they kind
of talk and lay down in the green park grass where love
eludes her young body this time. Life
will grow on in years, waiting to be responsible
for her own wedding crystal, her own blue
sky over her grandmother’s lost grave in Iowa, it
takes her prairie life and leads her.  A kind
of courage, it gives her love of the wind,
her response to chipped blue pottery.

I started this sestina in last week's sestina class that I am teaching to six wonderful sestina troubadours in Albuquerque. We are in week 5 of 6.  We did a writing exercise about how we felt in the moment. I started with "How do you feel right now?" and we wrote several one-word descriptions.  One of mine was 'courage.'  We then added an object that represented one of the feelings.  I looked around the room and saw Lauren's beautiful pottery displayed on her dining room wall shelf. Something about the pottery, the question and the way the sestina wraps me into it's form, pulling out things that I never knew were there, took me onward.  I wanted to start with the question and wrote the first stanza.  After that, it's that sestina magic that kept me going. 

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