(A Sestina of Skerries)

By Joshua Weiss

I am alive. Borne from the molten stone
that lies beneath the surface of this Earth,
I exist thanks to the river of flame.
As the first growths of my beautiful wood
sprout next to the beach's fine grains of sand,
I unfurl my new splendor to the light.

A wondrous source of life, the sun's bright light;
it strengthens my plants, it heats my vast stone
face and torrid beach, but tide cools the sand.
I am at peace with myself and this Earth.
My citizens thrive in my noiseless wood,
and lightning is the only source of flame.

In the sky appeared a great ball of flame
one night, shattering the dark with its light.
Now, a huge scar cuts through my once-grand wood,
left from when twisted metal seared my stone
and crashed, marring the life of my sweet earth,
depositing young bodies in the sand.

A conch is lifted from its bed of sand.
On my mountain, glasses light a small flame.
Spears that miss their target plunge into earth.
These foolish boys refuse to see the light
that stares them in the face, huge as my stone
cliffs, and my pigs disappear from the wood.

Nothing is silent in my once-hushed wood,
screams are heard of boys playing in the sand.
A king rules tyrannically from his stone
fortress, and the dying embers of flame
provide no heat, let alone smoke, or light.
Death is near. I feel the pain of the Earth...

Those boys, those heathens have destroyed my earth!
The tongues of fire have charred my precious wood,
and ashen clouds cut off my sacred light.
They all flee to the safety of the sand,
avoiding at all costs the vicious flame
they once tried to light on top of my stone.

Borne from flame, 'twas flame that consumed my wood.
Dead is my earth, and my beautiful sand,
but I still turn my stone face toward the light.

©1997 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.