In Her Library, the Day Before She Dies–dVerse Poetry Forms, Sestina

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In Her Library the Day Before She Dies
a Sestina

I enter, hear the ticking of a clock.
The room is dim; drawn shades withhold the light.
Tick, tock, tick, tock—the thunderous passing time,
a slant of sun showcases motes of dust.
How many months since she has entered here?
Crushing mementos of the years long past.

Each shelf embraces mem’ries of her past.
Too many are the num’rous raucous clocks.
That one says twelve, but two o’eight this here,
and one that’s stopped is shrouded from the light
(so like her mind, unused beneath the dust
of years now gone, of unrelenting time.)

Photos of kin that mark an older time,
when she had naught with which to mark her past.
Piles of books, themselves becoming dust:
a lusty novel cached behind a clock,
and one, more recent, titled “See the Light,”
inviting her to grasp each moment here.

A cordless phone, askew, I find right here.
The musty air, oppressive, scents of time
elapsed. Let’s open windows, let in light,
diffuse the moldy taste of all that’s past,
quiet the ceaseless marking of the clock,
breathe deeply air that’s fresh and free of dust.

I cannot shake that cringy feel of dust,
the peering stares of generations here,
the constant toll of years, the ticking clock,
reminding me of my own fleeting time,
that days creep onward, leave behind the past.
I cannot silence dread of dimming light.

I search within to find the source of light,
to free my spirit of malignant dust,
discover there abundant joy. The past
is gone and beauty dwells right here.
How gifted I have been through boundless time,
not measured by the menace of a clock.

I view the past through eyes of sacred light,
eschew the nagging clock, the grimy dust.
Embrace grace here and in this hallowed time.

The poetry form challenge at dVerse today is the challenging SESTINA and I am pleased to be hosting it. I have attempted to write this in iambic pentameter. I’d be grateful for any critique you have to offer.

Please don’t be afraid to give it a whirl. It’s quite fun.

25 thoughts on “In Her Library, the Day Before She Dies–dVerse Poetry Forms, Sestina

  1. Truedessa says:

    Victoria, I decided to try this challenging form. I am not sure how I did. Yours is filled with emotions. The clock is a reminder that our time is limited in this space on earth. I could feel the emptiness of the house. (sigh)


  2. This is very moving and the sense of the books reflecting different stages of life and moods seems so pertinent to what our life’s may mean to others when we’re gone. I’ve often wondered why I don’t ‘shed’ some of my earlier books but I think I like to have some continuity with my life in books. Not sure it would help my daughters but who knows and I still keep some of the books of my parents. I thinks this is very moving as it seems like a metaphor for memory loss and the loss of our past with the books and the ‘ malignant’ dust.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The iambic pentameter works beautifully with this deeply serious subject matter, to create both unforgettable images and authentic emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. memadtwo says:

    I love the way this makes a circle, and time speeds up and then slows down again. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lynn__ says:

    I like the sound of your iambic meter and the words you chose to repeat. This is a nostalgic and sensitive sestina, Victoria…my mil died of Alzheimers too. Those ever-present clocks remind us of our time passing as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glenn A. Buttkus says:

    /so like her mind, unused beneath the dust/ hooked me hard. Your tale of loss, of capsulation, of nostalgia is fascinating. Mine, not uncommon for me, became a political diatribe, but I kind of liked the form. I could feel my creativity churning within the restraints of the form parameters.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very well done, Victoria! You had me mesmerized half way through the first stanza. Really good writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. How gifted I have been through boundless time,
    not measured by the menace of a clock. A great conclusion after the walk through memories, an introduction to the light.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. msjadeli says:

    You, step by step, wove such a web of choking claustrophobia that I was finding it hard to breathe. Then, with a wave of your hand, you threw open the shutters and windows to the light and fresh air of the day. You played this poem like a symphony, Victoria. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Grace says:

    I admire the sestina with iams to boot Victoria. Love the theme of your mother’s room with photos, books and clocks, scent of time.

    The 6th part and envoi is so uplifting and inspiring to read, the turning the past to the present filled with light, joy and gifts of those timeless memories. This is an amazing prayer:

    Let’s open windows, let in light.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for this special comment…so encouraging to me. For some reason I love this form because it takes me places I don’t expect. Now, to write a villanelle is another story, for some reason.


  11. Victoria, I am in awe. So many emotions rushed through me while reading this. Utterly beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. lillian says:

    I was reading and reading….with my breath held. The title places the poem in the third person….in her library before she dies. In the title, I read about her….in just a few words, setting the scene. And then in the body of the poem, there’s a shift to I …. and as I am reading, I am enveloped in the feelings of this place…”reminding me of my own fleeting time.” This is an absolutely delicious write and I feel a shift in feeling….the motes of dust, the dimming of light, before she died…and then I search for the light and I realize how graced I am….a beautiful acceptance of the aging process. I love this poem. And truly, the meaning captures me and I forget about the form.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. You have written this so beautifully and well. I love the hope and light which wins the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This is a poem that really speaks to me… My mother died in early summer and we still have to empty her house… a house I grew up in with all those things (but no clocks)… love how you kept the theme right through… to add the challenge of iambic pentameter was a little bit too much for me…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. kim881 says:

    The title is ominously beautiful, Victoria, and your sestina is well-structured. I love the clock sounds that echo throughout the poem and the fine detail, for example the slant of sun that showcases motes of dust. The scene you describe puts me in mind of Satis House, where Miss Havisham lived in Great Expectations. Like Lill’s, your sestina tells a story.

    Liked by 1 person

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