Welcome To My Bed

Adventures in form.

So I wrote my first ever sestina today. I wake up most mornings during the working week around seven so that I don't waste the day (and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I shelve books and sort newspapers at the library from eight to ten), and to make the best possible use of such a jump start, I decided it was time I revisited form. Other than the occassional haiku, I haven't written in form since at least the middle of high school, but most likely as far back as middle school English class when we were attempting to write sonnets in order to better understand Shakespeare. (It didn't help much.)

I had been looking over a poetry anthology from my class on Black Mountain College from last spring and stumbled across my favorite thing that I read that whole semester, a poem by Denise Levertov called "The Sharks", which inspired some thinking on how overwhlemed I've been lately. And thus, my first sestina was born in the very early hours of this morning.

And just so you can judge my first foray in form in god-knows-how-long, here it is.


I am out of my depth,
sand bar dropping from under me,
yawning mouth lacking the teeth
I need for traction; toes
drag along the floor
and I want steady.

The breakers keep even pace, steady
as I tread and they carve more sand away, the depth
of sound swallowed doplar of a marble rolling across the floor.
It seems the sea will swallow me,
head first, ending with the toes,
never remembering to gnash its teeth.

But it isn't just the empty gums, the absence of teeth
that is worrisome; the danger is comfort, steady,
like familiar sand scratch between toes.
I wish I had remembered my height, the depth
I could dive, how my lungs would press me
towards surface, when all I want is floor.

Treading water, I can't help missing the kitchen floor,
grateful constancy that received my baby teeth.
Like the sand at the water line, it likely holds no memory of me,
but its forgetfulness is steady,
unfathomable as the precise depth
of these trenches gargling salt just below my toes.

The puckering of the skin of my toes
has caused them to forget even sea floor,
all salt instead of depth
of purpose. Only watery teeth
repeat themselves like footsteps, steady
pace that's only lulling me.

The tide will soon enfold me,
all but the buoy tips of my toes,
and only then will I feel steady
in its belly of a floor
wreathed in grainy teeth
at some unknown league or depth.

It worries me, the sudden increase in depth of panic -
I am reduced to just teeth and dangling toes for anything to devour
and only the fins gliding across the floor give me pause, steady me at all.