The burned land around the lake is dead
while up above the sky glows red.
Is this the song you longed to sing?
Because now it doesn’t mean a thing.
In this wasteland rid of wildflowers,
my watch ticks away the painful hours.
I walked these ruins for many hours,
imagining the ancient dead.
Around the tombs, funerary flowers
plastic yellow, orange and red.
You once asked if I knew anything.
I said perhaps we should just sing.
Remember all the kids out cruising?
Driving fast through midnight hours
stupid believing we knew everything
we just jammed to the Grateful Dead.
Now I search the books you read,
and find, pressed, your favorite flowers.
I asked an expert the meaning of flowers.
She smiled and asked what I was using.
She said, You tremble and your eyes are red.
Never mind, I said, it was this love of ours,
and these flowers have long gone dead
so now their meaning isn’t anything.
She said, Don’t you think love’s a thing
that we can write in old pressed flowers?
In these pages they’re not dead,
and if you listen, you’ll hear them sing
that lovely forgotten song of hours
spent watching as the sky turned red.
And so I stop and think of you, Mildred,
and I search for a trace of anything
that might speed up these lonely hours
and help me find the proper flowers
to answer you in pages pressing
as if you weren’t these ten years dead.
As I read a guide to pressing flowers,
it was an odd thing to hear young birds sing
through the afternoon hours of the buried dead.
My first attempt at a sestina. I wanted to play with words that rhyme so I started the first stanza with AABBCC, knowing that the rhyme scheme would change from stanza to stanza, sometimes falling apart all together. I like the way some of it sounds, and I might try it again sometime.