Sestina: Fire, Grief, Drunk

I remember my grandmother’s life
in a way that I have never seen, her might
revealed in the face of countless griefs
Before the weight of them drove her, drunk,
over the edge into this weakened state.
I remember her before the fire.

They say there is no smoke without a fire
and that is true in my grandmother’s case, her life
defined by flame, this charred and dusty state.
She never knew the force of it. That fiery might,
much stronger than her own, would leave her, drunk
mingling cold beers with her tearless grief.

But back before she reached this outcast state
the world I’m sure was not so full of grief.
Her eyes sometimes reflect forgotten might
within them burning a long-banked, potent fire
The world has forgotten her pre-frail life,
but I remember it with my imagination and I’m drunk

on the idea. I envision her before the drunken
stupor that has followed her from grief to grief. The state
of her before the fire took her children. Took her life.
Deep within her eyes I see the her before the fire.
I remember, with my imagination, might.

In my mind’s eye she sometimes might
sit around a table and deal poker, drunk
a smile on her face and that familiar fire
born before her, cigarette hanging in state
and all the men bow their heads in grief
as she takes their money. Poker is her life.

She moves within that carded sphere. Life
simply drawn in cards of black and red, her might
felt in hands of five. She gives men their grief.
Her hair like a beehive and she’s drunk
on joy, her hair disheveled, concentrating, stately.
Her cherry’d cigarette the only fire.

I dream her life before she was a drunk
imagining her might before this state
her body bent by grief, heart weak with fire.

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6 thoughts on “Sestina: Fire, Grief, Drunk

  1. I’m just fascinated by the sestina form, the repetition and shifting sense of the words. My favorite lines are ” her life/defined by flame, this charred and dusty state” and “She moves within that carded sphere.”
    I love how you use the form to sift the past and present phases of the grandmother’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sestinas are fun. They are also kind of a bitch. This thing has been edited so many times, it doesn’t even resemble what I started with.

      Thank you so much. I like going back and forth in poems like that.

      Like

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