Thursday, January 28, 2010

terza rima

The seniors and I are marveling at Dante's terza rima (okay, I am marveling - and possibly LDM), so we gave ourselves (okay, I gave us) the assignment of doing at least twelve lines, just to get the feel of it. Harder than I expected it to be: to chase rhymes is, predictably, folly: I needed a story, a set of feelings. Late in the afternoon, one of my ninth grade girls said this: "Anything my father can do, I can do - almost." Said very plaintively, as is much of what she says. I stored her line away as a possible place to begin. At dinner tonight came word that our friend Ella had passed. 90+ years old, a sweet sweet woman. I felt the story fall into me, and then found the rhymes. It's not Ella's, nor my ninth grader's, but it borrows from the feelings of both of them, and from friend Zet, Ella's daughter.

Still Dreaming
for Ella

me and pa, sucker-punched, down out of emporia,
ma’s death hung heavy, hearts black, we staggered
down the miles of Red, still dreaming a euphoria

now dead, acid coursing through our veins, haggard
ghosts, bodies bludgeoned by grief, we traveled
on through flatlands, black soil, carved and fevered

like the thistles round my heart, unraveled
but once, one clear morning in a box canyon
wet with paintbrush and Indian blanket coraled—

God’s heart, said pa, but for me such poison
stank of foolishness, bells of idiots clanging, strangling
the last breath in my soul, a blasted ruin

till sleep took me, grieving, heart-sore, caverned
within my mother’s journey, into blue sky returned.



Blogger anno said...

Wow, terza rima... there's a tough assignment, but you are clearly up to the challenge. Love how all the rhymes work here, and all the great sounds: this is poem that begs to be read out loud. But I bet there's a lot of that going on in your class.

9:08 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anno: Good to hear from you! For someone who can usually throw a poem down in fairly quick time (usually by necessity), this ended up being more daunting than I expected. I know my students were struggling. I've a little more sympathy for their haphazard first efforts.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

I call this "prima rima," nothing third-rate about it! (all the puns intended)

12:39 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: Molto grazie. I liked the challenge of this, though it did stump me for awhile there.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Well, the extra work shows through. This is really good!

8:16 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: Many thanks to the "collaborations" of Ella and young J, the plaintive seer.

11:55 PM  

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