Watching the lake – sestina for dVerse

And at this moment, nothing is as real
important as this watching of the light
constantly moving on the moving lake,
that shivers like a mighty animal,
its muscles moving underneath its skin,
resting in movement, restless in its calm.

Rivers are smooth as this, but not as calm,
and here the seeming movement is not real,
this water patterned like a dappled skin
is like a mirror held up to the light –
but water can’t be tamed, like some soft animal,
tameness is the illusion of the lake.

What do you think of, looking at the lake?
In this bright sunshine, everything is calm,
there’s barely sound from any bird or animal –
do you believe this calm is truly real?
Wait here and watch the dancing of the light
and feel the sunlight seep into your skin,

then tell me there’s no wildness in this skin
of peace that hovers over this great lake –
thee’s constant movement, dust motes in the light,
and rippling waves make mockery of calm –
it’s all illusion. None of it is real –
you can’t keep water like some fettered animal –

it’s a wild creature, not some quiet, tamed animal
that can be stroked or petted. No, its skin
is scarred and shattered. It’s wild self is real
and underneat the surface of the lake
is something that is far from being calm
something that’s fierce and hidden from the light.

Streams raced to get here, shattering the light
into a thousand pieces. Something animal,
and toothed and clawed, is sleeping. Now it’s calm
enough, but underneath that skin
are muscles tensing, and this restful lake
holds for a moment, then flows on to somewhere real.

In this bright light, we only see the skin
of this wild animal, of this quiet lake.
We breathe the calm, and dream that it is real.

Oh me, oh my. My first sestina. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I’m posting it because I may never have the stamina to write another one. This month’s form for dVerse is the sestina, a form depending on repetition of end-line words in a particular order. It’s also probably the longest poem I’ve ever written. I need to go and lie down now.

11 thoughts on “Watching the lake – sestina for dVerse

  1. If you struggled with it, Sarah, it certainly doesn’t appear that way in the poem. I love the pull of calm versus that roiling energy beneath the skin of the lake. Take your rest and then you may be ready for another. I find that something about this form takes you/me beyond our limits, leads to unexpected places.

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