Sestina to Lake Michigan
I walked away from life to seek some peaceBeside the great lake’s constant, rhythmic motion.
I left behind the city with its sounds -
The cacophony of its urban dance.
My ears expected soothing, whispering waves.
My shoes removed, my toes curled in the sand
But as I walked I felt the life in sand
Felt tiny creatures searching out their peace
Felt living beings even in the waves
That beat the shore in slow and even motion
It seemed that all about me was a dance
With wind and lake and sand the only sound.
The grasses swayed and beckoned, quiet sounds
Those grasses, long, their feet held fast in sand
They seemed to call me, join our mystic dance -
Just feel, they said, and you will sense a peace
That doesn’t come in stillness but in motion
Listen to the woodwind songs of waves.
And then the wind came up and beat the waves
The woodwind tones took on a brassy sound
Instead of quiet there came more frantic motion
As frothy fountains beat upon the sand
I felt myself swept up – this was not peace
But vital music forcing me to dance.
It felt to be a wild exuberant dance
We swayed and bent and spread our arms and waved
I was, in that strange world, a little piece
A quiet voice in a sea of sound
I was a part of wind, and grass and sand
And joined with them in an eternal motion.
The beach transformed, for everything was motion
I felt that all of life was in our dance
The wind blew up the tiny grains of sand
Which fell again to rest upon the waves
No human noise disturbed the throbbing sound
Of life upon that beach where I sought peace.
I found my peace within unceasing motion -
I danced to sounds no orchestra could make
I was at one with waves and sand and grasses.
The painting for this poem is courtesy of Lisa Stark-Berryman, Santa Cruz, CA
A sestina is a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet, for a total of thirty-nine lines. The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time; if we number the first stanza's lines 123456, then the words ending the second stanza's lines appear in the order 615243