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featured poet, June English

June English photo

 

Sestina

It doesn’t matter how you tell the story,
as long as you remember how it starts:
the sun must fizzle out in darkened skies
and furtive shadows creep across the lawn.
Of course there is a churchyard and a ghost,
and usually a child who’s lost his way.
 
A frightened child who always asks the way,
and finds himself mixed up in someone’s story –
something about a churchyard and a ghost
who makes his presence felt in fits and starts
before his furtive walk across the lawn
to leave his shadowed outline on the skies.
 
Next day beneath the ever-blue of skies
the tale is seen in quite a different way:
cucumber sandwiches on the well cut lawn
are more in keeping with a shared love story,
one that finishes where tender kisses start
and no-one stops to think they’ve seen a ghost
 
until the heroine disturbs the ghost,
whose phantom fingers creep across the skies
and rushes back to where the story starts
to try and make it end a different way.
The problem is you have to start the story
where furtive shadows creep across the lawn
 
and once those shadows creep across the lawn
it’s almost certain that you’ll see the ghost
and set the wheels in motion for a story
where sunlight fizzles out in darkened skies.
There doesn’t seem to be another way
the end is anchored where the story starts –
 
the curtains rise, the cast appears: it starts
as scary shadows slant the haunted lawn –
the child who’s lost won’t go a different way,
he’ll stumble in, alone afraid. The ghost
will rise, disturb the sun and blacken skies,
he’s present now, and always, it’s his story
 
and like all stories, it must end. And start –
it’s happening now – the troubled sky, the lawn,
the ghost await the child who’s lost his way …
 

June Enlish

in collection, The Sorcerer’s Arc, 2004, Hearing Eye