A SESTINA OF MEMORIES - J. E. Ball Poems

 
 

Poems » j. e. ball » a sestina of memories

A SESTINA OF MEMORIES

When you were nine, and I was six years old,
Do you remember how we wandered forth,
Two small explorers, through the summer fields,
With apple turnovers provisioned well,
And trampled down the farmer's mowing grass,
In haste to pluck the little red-stemmed rose?

And how the farmer in his fury rose
With hot red face, as ogres wore of old,
And eyeing angrily his battered grass,
With wingèd words he drove the culprits forth,
And swore a whipping would be theirs as well
The next time they profaned his sacred fields?

Regretfully we left those sunny fields
(For there alone it grew, our longed-for rose),
And sate us down beside a little well
That bubbled up ’midst stonework grey and old,
And watched the slow soft runlets spouting forth,
To lose themselves amidst the spongy grass.

Long time we lay upon the kindly grass,
Until the cows from out their distant fields
In solemn, slow procession issued forth.
With stiff and lagging movements then we rose,
Our little bones aweary felt, and old
(For all the ground was damp beside the well).

Long weary weeks passed by ere we were well:
Long aching weeks; by then the farmer’s grass
Had turned to hay, and our offence was old.
Again we entered those forbidden fields,
But found no more our creamy-petalled rose,
Thorns, only thorns, the straggling hedge brought forth.

Sadly we turned, and sadly trotted forth,
Our flowers were gone, and all our hopes as well;
Though some, consoling, said, “Your little rose
Will bloom again: and, not to hurt the grass,
You might go skirting round the farmer’s fields –
His hand is mortal heavy, though he’s old.”

Still to the sunlit fields Hope speeds us forth:
Prone on the grass, we dream that all is well:
And so wax old, and never grasp our rose.