by Dr M C Gupta
The poor old grandmother in a cold, rain-beaten house, lulling the child to sleep.
|THE POOR GRANDMOTHER: a sestina
September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
Sits in the kitchen with the child
Beside the Little Marvel Stove,
Reading the jokes from the almanac,
Laughing and talking to hide her tears.
But what are the thoughts that bring tears,
Whose aura now pervades the house?
What’s written in the almanac?
No one knows but the grandmother.
Sitting beside the little stove,
She reads it to the little child.
But what are the thoughts of the child?
Oblivious of silent tears,
He’s watching the flames in the stove.
They cannot warm the rain-chilled house,
Nor the heart of the grandmother,
Crying, reading the almanac.
Her heart’s not in the almanac.
While trying to humor the child,
What thoughts bother the grandmother
And drown her heart in welling tears?
She’s thinking how to feed the house
And also the flames of the stove.
She knows that the flames of the stove
May light the little almanac,
But can’t warm up a leaking house,
Nor the room of the ailing child.
This is the reason for the tears
That are choking the grandmother.
What can do the poor grandmother?
She puts out the old little stove.
Then she gives full vent to her tears
Which drop on the old almanac,
Unseen by the, now asleep, child.
The tears now flood the rain soaked house.
The tears have soaked the almanac.
The stove off, asleep is the child.
Grandmother’s crying in the house.
* Written in tetrameter.
* Honourable mention award in the "Invalid Item" , the “Famous First Words” contest, Round 1, hosted by twyls. The prompt was to use as first stanza the opening stanza of the poem “Sestina” by Elizabeth Bishop, which can be viewed at: http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/03/ahead/sestina.html.
This sestina was written without earlier having read that by Elizabeth Bishop.
M C Gupta
7 October 2008