Saturday, 31 May 2008

Evening in Malawi

We used to watch the sunset on the lake
while drinking tea as daylight turned to dusk,
bougainvillea above our heads still
dancing pink against the darkening blue
and, flying fast against the fading light
returning to its tree - a fish eagle.

Each day the haunting calls of the eagle
echoed from shire to shore across the lake.
A heavy bird, in flight it seemed so light
as it hunted for fish from dawn to dusk
moving quickly against the sky of blue
and diving in the lake so clear and still.

As the big bird passed we would sit quite still
awestruck by the grace of the fish eagle.
Sometimes we would walk in the evening blue
to look for other birds around the lake -
the weaver birds displaying until dusk
their wingtips fluttering in the fading light.

Sometimes we would see the flickering lights
of fishing boats floating on the lake, still
and motionless in the gathering dusk,
competing for food with the fish eagle.
The fishermen shouted across the lake,
the football scores echoing in the blue.

Once I sat on the beach, feeling quite blue
and watched the fireflies glimmering with light
as they gathered by the side of the lake.
I began to feel so peaceful and still -
above my head the call of the eagle
heralded another gathering dusk.

I left the beach to get home before dusk,
saw a kingfisher with its flash of blue
(a much smaller bird than the fish eagle)
startlingly bright in the pale evening light -
the colour stayed in my mind's eye as still
I walked to my house with views of the lake.

I heard the eagle call above the lake-
in the blue evening the world felt so still
and in deepening dusk my heart became light.

Unleash the Poem Within recommends using the sestina to explore memory.
Read Write Poem this week asks us to play about with form, using one form to rewrite a poem that was originally in another form. This poem, my first attempt at a sestina, is sort of a reworking of After Sunset, Lake Malawi.


Scot said...

I love these done right--this was wonderful

Janice Thomson said...

Well done Juliet! - love how a sestina allows the poet to delve deeper into the different facets of a subject. For myself I prefer the natural repetition of a word as opposed to the villanelle

polona said...

wow, this was truly wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Excellent sestina. I like how your poem explores the same theme, but from different angles. Almost as if a stone was skipping across the lake.

Nathan said...

The eagle's return, the movement of the sun, the sense of the speaker's mood -- all wonderfully interwoven. Nice work.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous. Really well done! A poem that reflects how nature soothes and stimulates the senses at the same time, a vision of a narrator's world and the world of birds as the sun sets. I hope you write more of these!

chicklegirl said...

This was your first sestina? Fantastic. I loved the bird imagery, which you always do with perfect detail.

Anonymous said...

So well crafted. I love the bird and sunset, light and sound, imagery.

Crafty Green Poet said...

scot, polona, nathan - thanks
janice - I agree, I prefer the sestina, but I'll be trying a villanelle soon
brian - that's a lovely way of looking at it, thanks!
mariacristina - thanks, I hope I'll do more sestinas too, but they're just so much longer than the poems I'm used to writing!
chicklegirl - yes my very first sestina, thanks
mary - thanks