(Not the May) Poem

The latest assignment from Mel’s MFA Sunday School is to write a sestina.  The rules are simple, but the task is incredibly difficult.  I’m working on it.  I’ve written one before, though, and since I’ve been writing a bit more about my relationship with Hubby, I thought I’d share my one successful sestina (still untitled) here:

We drove east, past the largest cross
in the Western Hemisphere
just outside the town of Groom.
From a great distance
we could see how tall and white
someone in Texas thinks Jesus stands.

We didn’t stop to get out and stand
at its base, where the stations of the cross
in bronze surround the gaudy, metallic white
of the original.  In another hemisphere
they’ve built a bigger monument, a distant
symbol of the church’s groom.

As a child, I had been groomed
to be the good Christian girl, to stand
by my parents’ morals.  But with distance
from mother and father, first across
the state, then the country, outside their sphere
of influence, the black and white

world I had known became less white.
They would not have chosen this groom
for me, a Jew from the hemisphere
opposite the one in which they stand.
He does not wear a cross
or a star around his neck and distances

himself from all talk of religion.  The distance
he traveled to eventually meet me, a white
girl from the Midwest, was not crossed
with the intention of becoming my groom.
But here we stand,
a matched set, the hemisphere

of my heart locked into the hemisphere
of his.  He holds my hand and drives the distance
between our life and where my old life stood,
in a Missouri town, mostly white
and Protestant.  I check the mirror, groom
my hair, and watch that cross

grow smaller where it stands, a white
point on this hemisphere, with distance,
out of sight.  I kiss my groom and drop the cross.


13 thoughts on “(Not the May) Poem

  1. Oh my G-d — this is such a powerful poem. I love the image of the physical cross standing in place for the religion itself. This is my favourite line: “From a great distance / we could see how tall and white / someone in Texas thinks Jesus stands.”

    • Thank you so much, Mel! It took me for-ev-er to write this sestina, so when I saw your assignment, it was a bit daunting, but I’m plugging away. I’m so glad you stopped by to take a look at this one.

  2. This is really moving and makes this weeks assignment feel that much more overwhelming. Thanks so much for sharing it as I had no idea what a sestina was until Mel’s Sunday post!

    • Oh, no! I didn’t mean to make it worse for you! Sestinas are difficult. This one took me a long time to write, but I think it’s a worthwhile exercise. Definitely makes you turn ideas and words around in your head to make them fit the structure.

      And thank you for the compliment! 🙂

      • This poem has been on my mind all day – it’s really beautiful and the images have stuck with me. Can’t wait to read what you write for this week’s assignment.

  3. Wow! Ditto what everyone else said, bravo! I followed your link in your comment on Mel’s post to see your example and am very impressed. I want to try this too, but am a somewhat intimidated. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Thanks so much. I’ve been working on the new assignment, and while I have to say the poem isn’t great, the exercise is helpful. 🙂

  4. I love the rhythm of sestinas. I think they’re so musical. This one is wonderful. I have always been too intimidated to try one, but you have really written a great one. I hope you will post more of your poetry!

    • Thanks so much. This poem was a pain to write, but I’m happy with how it turned out. If you’re willing to read more than a poem a month, I’m happy to share more!

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