Bio Note: In retirement, I have piddled with a number of activities, one of which is painting clouds in oils (which does seem a little contradictory). I realize it's a lot harder to paint 'believable' clouds than I expected. "Sestina" is, I hope, a little playful in tone. My second poetry collection, Conjugation of Perhaps, will be available from Mainstreetragbookstore.com in January.
Paint Convincing Clouds
Gesso white the canvas as a lesson in hope. Then sweep the bending sky with cobalt, manganese, a cerulean thinning. Let dry. Anchor the ethereal with burnt umber, with forest green, but don’t spend time messing on the ground. Your aspiration is to fly. With flats and filberts dab fogs onto those blues— avoid addictive shapes of cute and cuddly. Beauty is random. Coax them to edges of horizon and don’t let them misbehave, or drip on the easel. You should choose a time of day, then smear that color around, tease them to their dangerous flood potential. Clouds are seldom angelic, each droplet guilty of dust. They shadow their diaphanous selves as adolescents who search for their puberty, gray embarrassments their ballast. Understand their pain. Clouds will cry only when black silhouettes of crows— you add at the last moment— puncture them.
A sestina is surely a challenge to compose, but I’ll be dead when I write one of those. Six selected words, symmetrically too even. Imperfection is the creed I believe in. Six ways to say pretty much the same thing, it’s the unexpected that gives good poems zing. Six puzzles demand the poet ponder how to prevent the reader’s restless wander. Sex and death can dosado their dance, but words can become too burdened to prance. A sestina is surely a challenge to compose, and I’ll be dead when I write one of those.
©2020 Frederick Wilbur
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