Holy Week Sestina

Easter is mystery — that from death, comes life.  Community is mystery — that from the sometimes sketchy attempts at togetherness, comes love, care and belonging.  Poetry is mystery too — that the careful placement of words in a long line can lead thoughts and hearts to pause and consider again the mysteries of both these things.

Below are the six stanzas of the completed Sestina.  A Sestina is usually completed by a final triolet, where all six end words appear in the final three lines and three of them as end words.  We won’t be able to add the final ending within this Lenten season, but hopefully it can be added later. So we are finished and not yet finished…

Bring a balm, a fragrance, to this heart in need of solace
and to this body bullied into this unholy pace.
Bind up my worries and sorrows.  Pour me love’s healing wine.
Let my soul draught deeply, let it soothe my bones.
Life to death.  Communion please, for the solitary
kneeling at the altar, my very essence, I return.

When I try to write, I’m too tangled in life to return
to my hidden landscape; weaving metaphors that bring solace
cyclical life from life is halted, melee arresting time of solitary.
Time is of the essence if I can still it, decelerate the pace
and breathe.  One thought at a time. Listen to the peace in my bones
spilling ink upon the page, forming orbs and angles, like water into wine.

Let me sip from the day, each moment, a mouthful of wine
life’s saturation, steeping the hours, inviting my return
to the green valley where new flesh forms on these dry bones,
where still waters ripple peace, and I find sweet solace
a cadence of renewal, at an unremitting pace
steadily walking, muscle and breath, neither solitary.

Spirit meets my pulsing blood, erasing solitary,
I swallow your presence and savour forgiveness-wine.
Fed and refreshed, I will follow you, at my heart’s pace.
Obstinately though it wanders, sashaying to return,
firmly I step from altar to aisle, a journey of solace,
from broken to mended.  Grace, courage these bones!

To ease pain and comfort others near me, animate my bones
and mollify my indulgent propensity for the solitary
life, where I am my own.  Invigorate a venture from solace
of self, to setting a table, lighting the candles and uncorking the wine.
Let me break open an alabaster jar of love and return,
eye to eye with you to the table, sharing, at a love embodied pace.

Teach me the path to the cross where sorrow and hope can carpet my pace.
Can that cushion the weight of these sufferings? Build hopeful bones
dense enough for mercy and humility to attach like flesh and return
to the cracked earth of a damp cave.  The rolled stone stands solitary.
Death, blood-let and crushed, now releases life – Enlivening Wine!
You! Saviour, Lord, Friend, you are my Ultimate Solace.

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