Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Monday, April 28, 2008

#28 A Mermaid Sestina

If ever I could truly see mermaids,
looking deeply past the wet wind
blowing across the sea, to know their stories, like knives
that open like segmented oranges,
half a memory of underwater stones
that in my imagination yet dance

A willful twirling endless dance
between waves floating with mermaids
falling into the depths like stones,
only the wild wind,
scented with oranges,
brings memories that cut like knives

When I was a child, such knives
were but an excuse to run away, an invisible dance
apart, drawn back by quiet afternoons, a blue bowl of oranges,
and the siren song of mermaids
promising haven from the constant wind,
and the coldness of stones.

I carry this knowledge within me, stones
carefully sharpened to knives
flying faster and truer through the wind.
Waist water deep, I wade into the dance
and float with one hundred mermaids
bobbing in the ocean, so many oranges.

My fingers sweetly perfumed with rinds of oranges,
my mind flies freely as sand pummeled from stones.
I swim to the edge of the sky where mermaids
separate the sea from the sky with sharpened knives,
their green sea-tails glimmering with dance,
trailing starfish in the wind

And a thousand, thousand stars fall beneath the wind
into the sea that smells of oranges,
the waves spread out into a great dark dance,
white-tipped waves float out over deepwater stones,
dawn edges the world with knives.
Until the dawn, I float, surrounded by mermaids.

I breathe them in, these mermaids, as a fierce wind
of knives with no forgiveness; the scent of oranges
lifts from stone, inspiring me to dance.

Today's prompt as we move to the end of April, to write a sestina for National Poetry Month, comes from Poetic Asides. This is the very first time I've ever tried this very formal form which requires each line end with a certain word in a certain order, so you'll notice the repetition, ending with all six words in the final three lines. My six words were: mermaids, wind, stones, knives, oranges, and dance. More sestinas are posted at Poetic Asides (see link at the right).

1 comment:

  1. Sestina. I've never experimented with this form. It looks grand, and you've done a great job with it.