Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sestinas (11 January 2011)

In the hallway stood a stately clock
Given to a man and his bride, a wedding present
Back in their youth.  But now, old—
She passed five years ago in her sleep.
He recalled her beauty, though lines marked her face,
She’d smiled up at him one last time.

He bought her cherry trees for a present,
But she never made her birthday (78 years old!)
Nor saw the blossoms as she woke from sleep
--Delicate pink, like the blush of her face,
Which hadn’t faded in all this time,
These ticks and chimes of the patient clock.

The man, alone in this house, was very, very old,
And though tired, could not sleep.
Grief traced canals in his face.
He sat in the library most of the time,
Kept company by books and the hallway clock,
Which was chiming the midnight hour at present.

“Wish he’d leave so we could sleep,”
Said each wise book with its stoic face.
“He may stay up all night this time.”
Out in the hallway, the sentinel clock
Was a friend to the man, attentive and present,
And didn’t mind that the night grew old.

The man, weary, could not face
Another lonely night—“I’m running out of time.”
He thanked the faithful clock.
The wise books settled down for the present,
Shut up in their bindings, faded and old,
And fell into a dusty sleep.

A lifetime spent standing, keeping perfect time,
(Decades had passed before that clock),
The happy couple’s cherished present
Skipped one second, two—“I’ve gotten old.”
The man would not wake from his sleep,
And relief showed on his tired face.

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