Sestina for Paper and Ink

by Kathleen Szoke

                                    Geometric figures constructed of lines
                                    that form themselves into letters, then words
                                    ordered into patterns on paper –
                                    the architect of this arrangement of black
                                    liquid sinking into an expanse of white
                                    builds thought into a structure of ink.

                                    The composer creates in ink,
                                    in the resonance of musical lines.
                                    Silence is a pause, clean and white;
                                    the melody is in the words,
                                    and meaning is there in the marks of black,
                                    as sound moves through air and alights on paper.

                                    As the artist layers paint on canvas, paper
                                    can be filled with shapes and forms of ink,
                                    all prismed colours contained in black.
                                    a representation in colours and lines – 
                                    paint a living picture with words;
                                    fill all space otherwise left white.

                                    Cultivating blooms of red and yellow, pink and white,
                                    the gardener expresses fertility on paper –
                                    harvest a garden of words,
                                    dig it out in rows of ink
                                    form the lush growth into lines
                                    growing out of soil, rich and black.

                                   The newborn’s eyes are almost black;
                                   the worry that blanches your heart to white
                                   appears on your face as lines.
                                   Your children are dreams on paper,
                                   creatures of sound and ink,
                                   that you sing to sleep with soothing words.

                                   There is nothing more ineffectual than words
                                   when yearning for one whose heart is black.
                                   The lover seeks to hold the loved in filaments of ink,
                                   but love is weak and palest white,
                                   as fragile as the thinnest paper,
                                   on which you will write the most beautiful lines.

                                  Our lives are all in words, spread across white,
                                  set out in black on an empty expanse of paper,
                                  eternity expressed in ink, a legacy of living lines.


Sestina for Paper and Ink was first published in Main Street, Vol. Six: 2003