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Christmas Sestina

183. Christmas Sestina

he is here again — baby Jesus

Bethlehem roads full of crowds

shepherds seeing light

in skies beckoning wisdom and gifts

and Mary’s eyes hold mystery

as her life turns a challenging way

fog shrouds the way

of what he means — this Jesus

but in his youthful eyes the mystery

befuddles parents stressed by crowded

times of seeing his strange gifts

peek through in times of light

and as he walks, the light

goes with him as he lays out a new way

filled with welcome as a gift

of love from Jesus

and those excluded start to make a crowd

as they feel the magnet of his mystery

how do we capture it — this mystery

how do we claim it — this light

do we separate from tradition’s crowd

to walk a lonelier way

with this man Jesus

as he offers gifts

do we give ourselves and from him receive gifts

that make our very lives mysterious

with knowing this one Jesus

with walking in the light

with following in the way

regardless of the crowd

and do we beckon that same crowd

to join in cherishing the gifts

do we with our own lives walk in the way

and feel inside that same mystery

of being the lampstand light

that he challenged us to be — this Jesus

we celebrate you Jesus, announce you to the crowd

we are the light, unwrap the gifts

that show the mystery and love of Bethlehem’s way

© Copyright 2007 by Ann Freeman Price

I love finding a poem that I wrote five years ago. Sometimes I can barely remember writing it, but I do recall that I was captivated by writing a sestina about Christmas. Have you ever written a sestina? I got totally engaged in it.

First you find six words to end the lines of the six-verse poem—six words that you can find ways to use over and over again. And then you notice the pattern. You set it in the first verse. And then in the second verse you end the lines with what was line 6, 1, 5, 2, 4, 3. Check it out. It happens that way with every verse—you just look at the word endings of the verse ahead of it and write them down for the next verse—just the endings and then create a line to go with it.

In the very last verse which is three lines, the same system is still used, for in the middle of the first line is the word ending line 6 in the verse before. Then at the end of that first line is the word ending line 1 in the verse before. In the second line of the last verse you use the word ending line 5 in the verse before, and at the end of the second line you use the word ending line 2. And in the last line of the poem in the middle of the line you use the word ending line 4 of the verse before and the last word of the poem is the word ending line 3 of the verse before. I think with this sestina I wrote the first verse, and then for the other verses I just drew on the paper six lines over and over and wrote in the last words, according to the pattern above. Try it! It’s amazing!

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