A November Sestina

Sestina: a poem with six stanzas of six lines and a final triplet, all stanzas having the same six words at the line-ends in six different sequences that follow a fixed pattern, and with all six words appearing in the closing three-line envoi.

I wrote this poem for Kathy Wagner's Freshman Creative Writing Workshop at Washington College in November 1998, but I would like to try to write another sestina, sometime. Maybe this November?

The doors opened, pouring forth people in silence.

Shuffling along, hearts heavy with the message

of nails, thorns, and blood turned to water.

A force which draws them out to the deserted, darkened

beach of ghostly footprints and the seagull’s

sanctuary of wind, sea water, and sand


blowing around, making my thoughts an hour-glass of spinning sand

gritty with seven years of returning to this place, in silence.

Now before me the sea swells, sprinkled with seagulls,

resting in the comfort of the ocean’s motion and message

that the Creator will clasp them in the darkened

night so chilled by the black wind and invisible water.


And now I know that God is the color of this water,

water rushing and gushing love upon the sand’s

moon-like terrain, its pockets of darkened

footprints left there over the years, in silence.

Ghosts of those whose souls felt the message

and now shine with the whiteness of a hundred seagulls.


A reflection of the starry host above, the seagulls

bob peacefully in the chilly waters

lapping up to my toes, and with a shhh! listen! for a message

of whispered grace upon the damp sand.

The only noise amidst the November silence

I have longed for, alone in such a darkness


wrenching my throat because so darkened

has my heart become, not the pure white of the seagulls

asking me where I have been so long, ignoring the silent

power of the crashing, infinite, boundless water

reaching to mold and shape the trodden sand,

leaving the mark made by God’s finger, the message


we should all search for. The message

I found in the bottle of the night, darkened

with a tint of question colored sand,

yet sparkling with the bright hope, the seagulls

a promise surging from within the onyx waters

whose waves break and pull at the shore of my mind. Silence


speaks messages that He who formed the stars loves seagulls

and even those hearts so darkened by other forces, denying the water

that washes the clinging sand from my face and shouts love through the silence.


Rachel Wimerpoetry