This next poem is something I have never even considered attempting before. I wrote a sestina. I may not ever do this again. I’m not even going to lie about it. The assignment was to write a sonnet or a sestina, and since I’ve written sonnets in the past, I went with the sestina. You might want to grab a beverage for this one.
The Order Includes Both Extant and Extinct Species
She held the baby turtle in her hand,
leaving fingerprints over the shell’s braille.
The turtle, in response to the potential conflict,
pulled in its limbs and prayed for water.
She held it close, knowing that her power
was false—it could have chosen to struggle
even as she could have chosen to struggle
against the insignificance of her own hand.
Life was the mouse that escaped the cat’s power
only to find itself tripping over the braille
of the mousetrap, pinned and begging for water.
In the place where death and life conflict,
what was the point, if not conflict
resolution, of a satisfactory end to the struggle?
The cacti will always plead for water,
spines held aloft like supplicating hands
that rise above the desert braille
with nothing to grasp against the flood’s flashing power.
But interference was outside her power
even as she orchestrated the conflict
of razor blade against skin, scribing braille
apologies to no one who could read them. Her struggle–
to not write more lines with a shaky hand
while watching the sink pool with blood soaked water.
She wondered if a drop of holy water
could infuse in her some divine power.
She held the droplet in her hand,
indistinguishable from tap, a conflict
she had no stake in, so felt no need to struggle
against her senses or the rosary beads raised like braille,
or gooseflesh raised like a braille
scripture, not from divinity but from rain water
laced with laudanum. The haze is one less struggle
for the turtle to hide from. It exercised its power
of avoidance until it couldn’t evade the conflict
anymore and shrank itself inside her hand.
She stroked the turtle’s braille and found the power
to place it near the water, end its conflict,
the futile struggle against her hand.
So, what do you think? Should I attempt more sestinas in the future?