Six Amens for the Sestina

Amen and Amen and Amen…

A triolet completes the Sestina like an Amen completes a prayer.  This is doubly appropriate since our particular Lenten Sestina writing project was written as a prayer.  Six writers wrote this poem, six voices prayed this prayer, so it seemed that six corresponding ‘Amens’, were appropriate.

Have you ever listened to a Priest or Cantor intone a prayer over a gathering of worshipers and those gathered voice the ‘amen’ back after each portion of the prayer?  It rises as many ‘amens’ returned for one prayer for many.  Here our practice is reversed.  This is a prayer created by many voices, with one member – not necessarily a priest, not intentionally someone in leadership – but one of the company, turning and blessing the combined prayer, the combined efforts, sorrows and longings of those gathered. It feels like a rhythm we don’t practice enough.

This also marks the end of my Practicum Project which this same membership has participated in and supported over the last eight months.  It has been the best thing I have ever done, in part because of these voices you hear below, praying and turning in prayer, longing, companion-ing, blessing each other together, forming the best of what community can be.  Thank you friends.

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.

Each prayer like ripe grapes becomes new wine.
Each stanza a skeleton where solitary bones receive solace.
Each whispered, “Amen” resets my pace and I return.
Laurel P

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 your love companion my solitary pace,
let your wine refresh my heart with joyful solace,
so that your peace return, seeping deep into my bones
Laurel A

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.

Our bones sing their flesh, hoping. Sorrow opens her wine.
Life’s pace, settled to the table, makes room for the solitary.
Solace is our grace; we partake, leaning in to Your Grand Return.

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!

God of flesh and bones, God who stood solitary against darkness
and death, pour me the wine of your solace. Hold my hand
and guide my pace. Hope will be my song until you return again.

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.

From solitary cloistering, eagerly, to you I return,
with quickened pace I yearn for solace.
Intoxicate my dry bones, as if with sweet crimson wine.

Teach me the path to the cross where sorrow and hope can carpet our pace.
Yet how to bear the weight of these sufferings? Build dense hope into bones
where the flesh of mercy and humility can attach to, and life 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.

These journeying bones have kept pace;
Returning with thirsty love to Christ’s solace,
No longer solitary, but sipping His wine.

Leave a Reply