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San Francisco Sestina This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

That night, with mittens to keep us warm, we searched the skies for snowflakes
We stained blackberries with our fingertips, dipped in jam
and the purple tinge of our skin took days to fade to indigo;
with heliotrope heads I held her hand and had to remind her to breathe
while we paraded along the wobbly wails lining the Golden Gate Bridge,
at two she said she was thirsty, taking in the San Francisco Bay for a drink.

Three weeks ago tonight I asked to buy her a drink,
she spoke with her eyes, her lashes laced with snowflakes
and didn’t respond, leaving me in suspense like the Golden Gate Bridge.
She talked in verse, in double tones harmonized like toast slipping under jam
and we buzzed in unison , I found it hard to breathe
when I noticed her turquoise eyes had darkened to a liquid indigo.

The empty pavement reflected the midnight-mourning indigo.
Around three we stopped here to drink
and I drank like a kingfisher, under water where I learned to breathe.
The moment I shut my eyes, the stars shattered into millions of snowflakes
which dropped in clumps to the earth, falling together in a jam,
bouncing off the rubber cars trudging along the Golden Gate Bridge

and turning to slush as they hit the cement, the radiating heat of the Golden Gate Bridge
so hot that flames shot out beneath it, flashing Red White and Indigo.
Drivers stop to watch the disorienting flickers, sparking an endless traffic jam
and for hours I banged on the windows of their cars, in desperate search of a drink,
and each glare she pointed at me in the process was one-of-a-kind, each one a snowflake
strangling my vocal chords, holding so tightly I could scarcely breathe.

Guiltily, I thought, If only she could breathe,
as her lungs stood rigid, the wind-withstanding columns of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Clinging to her like tarred feathers, glimmering snowflakes
dyed apricot and crimson, melt into her indigo.
She dripped a little of her intoxication into my drink
and she spread over my palms in a viscous smear, strawberry jam.

And now, the thick, sticky red residue stains everything as I jam
all traces of her in a cardboard moving box labelled ‘breathe.’
I wipe away the imprints, fingers and lips, from the glass from which she last took a drink
and the photographs of suspended auburn wires, crossing her mind like a Golden Gate Bridge.
I shaved away thoughts of how I was the bay water flowing beneath them, indigo.
The memories of her dissolve at my touch, disintegrating snowflakes.

I drink her, spiritlessly, jamming the brakes in the center of the Golden Gate Bridge
Rinsing my chest in indigo moonlight, swallowing the snowflakes
with amplified rising and falling, so that everyone can hear me breathe.




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