Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jumping the Storm

A storm is coming.  I hear reports of it as I fly out of Seattle this morning, and somewhere over the midwest, our pilot's disembodied voice instructs us to strap in for a bumpy ride: we're passing over the storm that is heading across the middle of the continent, stretching for thousands of miles.  Even at 30,000 feet we feel the storm rattling it's teeth at us.  Through the magic of jet travel, a little like time traveling, we leap-frog over the mess of wind, snow, hail, sleet, rain, thunder and lighting, and this buys me some time: I should be home safe and sound before the weather catches up with me.  But it will catch up with me, and in the back of my mind I am prepping to do poetry workshops online, wondering if my students and I will all have power, if the 4-8 inches of snow in town and the 8-12 inches predicted for the mountains (read: Rockbridge County) will shut things down for the third time this semester.  

But something else rattles my cage, too: a sestina.  A Post-AWP, Survived-the-Onslaught, Homeward-Bound-Not-Necessarily-Sensical Sestina.  I don't know where it came from.  Maybe while I slept through the first hour of our flight a storm-monster spoke to me or chilled my bones through the crack between the window and the side of the plane where I stuffed my coat to block ice-knives of keen air.  Who knows?  I pause here in Atlanta to post the sestina, before flying out for the last leg.

Safe travels to other AWP participants!

Jumping the Storm

Repeat the number
of the beast
six times six.
Shake your head.
Bare oily teeth,
rattle those yellow scales -

scatter those scales
without number
like broken teeth.
O forgotten beast
raise your head,
keen fierce like six

monsters hung on six
hooks at God’s awful scales.
His ax falls and falls, beheading:
each blow a raw number.
Inside this storm a beastly
God sharpens His teeth.

Later, He’ll pick those teeth
with the bones of your six
slippery fingers, roast beast
cleansed of scales,
reduced to a number,
a mounted head.

For now, don’t look ahead
or down.  Lick your teeth
one by one, number
them in multiples of six.
Howl up a minor scale.
Little beast,

frightened beast,
don’t worry your ugly head.
God gives you strength to scale
cloud mountains slick as teeth.
Whisper your secret name six
times – that’s His favorite number.

Life’s a beast.  God’s teeth
bite your head like six
piranhas, scaly.  Hurt?  Take a number.

           - Deborah A. Miranda

1 comment:

  1. watch out lesley wheeler. there's a stranger ridin' up to challenge you in a formal battle . . .