Tiel Aisha Ansari
July 2014 Sestinas
A fogbank swallows the nail-paring
moon. Seagulls line the frosty wires
shifting from webbed orange foot to foot.
The path is muddied by the many feet
that came and went from the riverbank.
They dragged the water with tight-woven webs
and finally went away, despairing.
The body was trapped in a tangle of wire
beneath the outwash from Sullivan's Gulch.
Other search teams had gone up the gully
scanning for clues, every square foot
under the menacing hum of the light-rail wires
in the shadow of the steep embankments.
Meanwhile the fence crew was repairing
the hole in the hurricane-fence’s steel web.
No-one saw the gap in last year's cobwebs
or the smear where someone skidded on gull-
droppings. The plain trace of an uneven pair
of shoes; the drag of a limping foot.
That's where he came down the bank
sliding and clutching at the fence-wire.
He'd had money he tried to wire
not trusting to transfer it over the web
but somehow it never arrived at the bank.
He couldn't guess how he'd been gulled
but it cut the ground from under his feet—
cash unexpectedly disappearing.
A shock for which he'd not been preparing
like grabbing onto a live wire!
He shook all over, head to foot
feeling the same as a fly in a spiderweb
or rat staring into a snake's open gullet,
trembling at the thought of the bank.
Unexpected curve-ball, tricky bank-
shot: really there's no point comparing
this disaster to some game-play. The poor gull
thought of suicide by coat-hanger wire
but chose to drown in the oil-webbed
waters that churn at the bridge footings.
Now the gulls watch with unsparing
bright eyes as the web of submerged wire
bobs at the bank, exposing a foot.
I read it in the morning paper:
something happened late last night
long after sleep had made my gaze
grow dim, had made me quench my taper,
go to bed. I missed the flight
of meteors, that airborne blaze
that set a local home ablaze
as matches would a house of paper.
Sleepers, tumbled into flight,
escaped in safety. But all night
the fire kept burning, would not taper
off. The morning's smoky gaze
fell on the passers-by who gazed
at No.13, which still blazed.
A journalist and video-taper,
staffers from a local paper,
said they'd stand there til tonight
or til the fire was out. A flight
of smoke-jumpers was now in flight,
they claimed (but wouldn't meet my gaze)
recruited by an overnight
emergency phone call. This blaze
refused to yield—so said the paper—
to local firemen. Not some taper
you could pinch out with your tapered
fingers, unscorched. Not some flight
of model airplanes, balsa papered
to delight a childish gaze.
This meteorite, this rock ablaze
that fell on us so late at night
was dragon-breath to armored knight.
It draws us, as a burning taper
(tiny sister to this blaze)
can capture moths in circling flight.
They're helpless to avert their gaze
until their wings burn up like paper.
My taper-fascinated gaze
circles round the nightlong blaze,
a paper plane in dangerous flight
Tiel Aisha Ansari is a Sufi, martial artist, and data analyst living in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has appeared in Fault Lines Poetry, Windfall, Verseweavers, Measure, Mascara, and an Everyman's Library anthology, among others. Her poetry has been featured on KBOO, Prairie Home Companion, and MiPoRadio and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her collection Knocking from Inside is available from Ecstatic Exchange, and her chapbook High-Voltage Lines from Barefoot Muse Press. She currently serves as the president of the Oregon Poetry Association. Visit her online at knockingfrominside.blogspot.com.
Midnight in Corinth
Night in mid-Corinth. He,
her knight renting comet
'mid her con. I, tenant,
rent midden. Her knight coo-
coo! And night-mad here in
Originally Published in Wag’s Revue