The Hands That Turn

The Hands That Turn (a sestina)

Take this grain of sand and turn
in tender hands, in waves of time,
douse with water, scrub the dirt
until rounded pearl, chiseled and beat,
keep safe in velvet from dusty gray,
link other grains softened, a stranded full.

Take empty words and churn ‘til full,
through days and red rivers, rush and turn,
scrape, wad, erase the gray
delete, rewrite, through pages of time,
until our words breathe a lovely beat–
golden streams of prose from washed away dirt.

Take ragged songs borne in earthen dirt
off-key, no rhythm, with refrain full
of senseless sound and uneven beat,
repeating cacophony, a circular turn,
needle-scratched melody, turning through time,
until symphonies burst from offbeat gray.

Take this canvas, washed in gray
empty, black-spilled, swirls of dirt
repaint, rewash, mix hues of time
recompose, complement, color full,
until beauty, through a prismic turn
of light, we’re dancing to painted beat.

Take this picture of fallen world, beat
by sorrow, through time turned gray,
seeking meaning as sunsets turn;
edit, enhance, delete the dirt
until framed with me, us– the family full–
bride, more beautifully grown through time.

In hands tender, set hearts in time
until they pulse a rhythmic beat,
pearls on a strand, glowing beauty full;
without him, the world is colorless gray,
easily blown away scraps of dirt,
unless through his fingers our hearts are turned.

In his time, he transforms the gray
of dirt-hewn mess, life bitten and beat
in tender hands, hearts turn ruby-red full.

***

Sharing the above poem with Books & Culture, and a call to write a poem about cultivation by Marcus Goodyear, senior editor at TheHighCalling.org and FaithinTheWorkplace.com.    I originally wrote a free verse poem, and then was inspired by another entry, a sestina, written by L.L. Barkat (you can read it here). I’d never written (nor heard even) of a sestina, but enjoyed her entry, the sound and flow of the piece, and after looking up a few articles online on how to write one,  decided to give it a try. I attempted to rewrite the free verse into the sestina form (the attempt is the poem above). (Interestingly, L.L. Barkat will be highlighting the sestina form at the Tweetspeak poetry blog in July.)

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14 thoughts on “The Hands That Turn

  1. Good for you for taking on such a challenging form! I haven’t tried sestina, but I think you did a very nice job with yours. The requirements of the form seemed to flow naturally, which seems like it would be difficult to achieve. Well done!

  2. Wonderful poem! I especially love the third stanza and read it again and again letting those words sink in deep.

    “Take ragged songs borne in earthen dirt
    off-key, no rhythm, with refrain full
    of senseless sound and uneven beat,
    repeating cacophony, a circular turn,
    needle-scratched melody, turning through time,
    until symphonies burst from offbeat gray.”

    Absolutely beautiful!

  3. I don’t know much about poetry, but I know that this is really beautiful. I just really liked reading it. I really liked the 3rd paragraphy, if you call it a paragraph. Looking forward to reading more of your poetry. Just lovely!

    1. Connie, thanks for your kind words. And– paltry? Your offerings bless and touch so many, myself included. I love your heart– full of compassion for others. Nothing paltry about that.

  4. I was double checking all of the poems from the Books and Culture challenge, to make sure I didn’t forget to comment anywhere, and I was shocked to see that I had not commented on this one yet.

    This is one of the ones I read several times, enjoying the development of the stanzas through different forms of art. I especially like the way the fourth line of several stanzas are parallel.

    …delete, rewrite, through pages of time,…
    …edit, enhance, delete the dirt…

    With that kind of editorial language, I can’t help but love what you are doing! Connecting the words of editing with the more traditional images of farming especially touched me. So much of our work feels disconnected from the earth these days.

    Thank you for sharing your poetry with Books and Culture.

  5. Marcus, thank you for circling back around and commenting. I appreciate that!
    I was imagining how the sharing of our art connects us and reflects the beauty of the Maker… and this is how the poem turned out. I enjoyed the writing prompt!

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