Margo Robey’s Tuesday poetry prompt on June 2 was basically to take care of unfinished business, i. e. to find a poem that you might have abandoned or left in need of revision and complete it. Since I have so few poems in reserve, I decided to go back to an Oulipost challenge that I wanted to retry, although I think I may have been crazy to do so, given that it involves 36 lines of poetry and plenty of constraint.
Here is the challenge from April 19: “This will be one of your most challenging Oulipost prompts! A sestina is a poetic form of six six-line stanzas. The end-words of the lines of each stanza repeat those of the first, but in a differing order that in each successive stanza follows the permutation: 615243. The entire sequence of end words is thus: 123456; 615243; 364125; 532614; 451362; 246531. All words and phrases must be sourced from your newspaper text.” (To be completely honest, I changed verb tenses on occasion and, once in a while, made plurals of singular nouns and vice versa.)
This poem was completed using words from the following two articles in the 06/03/14 edition of The New York Times: Dana Jennings, “The Forests of the Ocean,” p. D2, and Sindya N. Bhanoo, “When Coral Reefs Thrive, So Does Variety in Fish,” p. D4.
A Secret Garden
She fell in love with the neglected garden,
lavender that beckoned in the rain.
Astonishing events were in store,
unsuspected mermaids in the sand
knowing the surprising secret,
the unsung convergence of delights.
Reminders of the beauty that delights
in feathery greens of the moss garden,
critical, but overlooked, secret
shocking color spawned in pools of rain,
radiant crystals in the sugar sand,
samples that throb with life in store.
Fragmented phenomena that store
pieces of astonishing delights,
images preserved in the brown sand.
Tidal forms create a wave-tossed garden.
Leathery pods preserved in sea and rain,
a past that holds the present’s secret.
It vexes her when others share her secret,
what she created and has held in store
underwater and against the rain –
the seaweed, the yellow fish, the delights.
The love of her beguiling garden,
the current and the surface and the sand.
Like an obsessed beachcomber on the sand,
finding unseen labyrinths in secret
vine-like flora, where the ancient garden
in isolation maintains a jealous store
of diverse and alien delights,
she studies the beach in the heart of the rain.
Colors and shapes preserved in the rain,
a habitat evolving in the sand,
its pinks and reds providing her delights.
To thrive, diversity is the secret.
Past, present, future all in store,
love revealed, whole and new, in the garden.
This was a satisfying exercise. Thanks to Margo for the prompt that encouraged it!