Sestina for Southern Youth This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 4, 2013
We sipped liquid afternoon,
A metallic concoction of sunlight, creek beds,
American cars, and the dust
Scraped off your ivory toes because your daddy
Said no working man would ever have tan feet,
The only time he was ever right.

The older kids said it was a rite
Of passage to have sex behind O’Connor’s barn, so that afternoon.
When you invited me to walk bare-footed
Through the wheat to the edge of a purple flower bed,
I felt my toes tingle just like when daddy
Stomped them in red clay, backyard dust.

You took my hand and led me to rotting wood, dusting
Off the earth and pulling me onto your right
Knee while your left one shook like my father’s
After his escapades in afternoon,
Adventures into delirium where he’d ask my mother to bed,
And she’d drag her feet.

I was swinging my feet
When you first kissed me (I noted the dusty
Taste of your lips) and you whispered of our marriage bed,
Tracing heartlines on my shoulders, writing
Love letters on my thighs as the afternoon
Gave way to fireflies and you began to remind me of my father.

Mama sat me down with sweet tea and said daddy
Could never know, while I rubbed my feet,
Sure you were washing your truck that afternoon
All caked with summertime and our stardust,
Reminders of the evenings we’d spent writing
Our stories while we put our hearts to bed.

I no longer felt comfortable in my bed
Because it felt so small when I heard daddy
Smashing glasses, so I made a right
Turn with a clipboard with my feet
Tensed and twisted and my thighs sticking to cracked leather, dusty
Like your jeans when you picked them up that afternoon

I imagined planting flower beds, feeling the earth under my feet,
Saying you were a daddy while you kicked up dust,
A baptismal rite for Southern boys you said, tasting the last drop of our afternoon.

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LiraDaeris said...
May 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm
Sestinas are hard to write, aren't they? They almost HAVE to happen by accident! Mine did, too lol Great job with this. I love your wording it it and it flowed very well, too! Worthy of an editor's choice, indeed :)
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