Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sestina (my first, circa 1990-something?)

DARK DUTY
- a sestina

The young American airman liked to take long walks on dark
streets, stopping to see quaint garden plots or charming doors
of English cottages along the way -- a tourist in the night.
Gone were the grim reminders of dogfights in the daylight war.
A man needed to see the stars sometimes, and check his soul
for damages, forget the pain, breathe back his dreams.

B-17’s were built in factories by women dreaming dreams
of their men coming home to slip into their beds in the dark
unannounced. Her hair wrapped in kerchiefs, the soles
of her feet flat from standing in assembly, she riveted doors
to cocoons of steel, pushing harder, faster, producing for the war,
praying daily that no star-marked telegram arrive in the night.

Air raid sirens unraveled the peace of his cloudless night
in shrieking pandemonium, rousing villagers from sober dreams,
sending the airman back to base, duty bound to win a war.
Sounds of bomber engines swarmed above with growls as dark
as animals, the Luftwaffe loomed. Blackness covered all the doors
and windows, black darkening his heart; a night without soul.

Strafing rendered thirty dead. Military men and one poor soul
who went to house his dogs whenever he heard sirens in the night.
The airman made it safely all the way to the commissary doors
before he was hit. He fell without pain as if in a narcotic dream.
He didn’t die at once, but lingered in a reverie alone in the dark
dreaming of the woman he would see at the end of the war.

A telegram displaying an amber star from the Department of the War
was put into her trembling hand. Her wrench dropped like her soul.
They drove her home, sat with her until the summer sky went dark
then left her in her solitude to suffer through the airless night.
Sleepless, without hope and broken beyond prayer or dream
she stood senseless, tearless, waiting for him to walk through the door.

In silence a white motion pushed him past the swinging doors
of life and death, in weightlessness, like flight without a craft. He wore
no clothes, his form more light than matter -- like vapor in a dream,
sheer glinting bits of mica in a timeless river of energy. His soul,
a napkin on a lapless lap. Like fog he traveled with the night
and found her standing, shivering; the wounded waiting in the dark.

He gently poured dreams into her eyes, his total love, his cloaking soul,
his self like water poured; and kissed her eyes, doors black as night.
At war within, but sobbing in relief, she cried him, back into the dark.

## I'm working (slowly) on a new one, but I forgot how hard they are to do....but fun!

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