July 2014 Sestinas
Metro Detroit writer Jenifer DeBellis is Pink Panther Magazine's Executive Editor and eBook Coeditor for Solstice—A Magazine of Diverse Voices. She’s a poetry student in the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program of PMC. A 2012 Meadow Brook Writing Project Writer-in-Residence, Jenifer teaches in Oakland University’s summer writing camps. Her work appears in the Aurorean, BAC Street Journal, Rose Red Review, Solstice Literary Magazine, the Vault, and Wayne Literary Review. When she’s not mentoring other writers or nurturing her own craft, she seeks solace amongst family and friends or sneaks in a run along her small town’s back roads.
Who can say why I began to dream about that paper?
It was easy enough to blend into the house. Such grace
can be feigned by anyone who’s spent time in treatment.
God knows they all tried to save me. But I had grown yellow
around the edges like a forgotten love letter, missed
only by the one whose hand had penned each loop & curve.
In the beginning, I made an adventure out of each curve
& secret crevasse the property offered. I left wallpaper
scraps under shrubs & behind rock walls before they were missed.
It was a balanced act, commanding a set face & grace.
My hide-n-seek games were perfect for discarding those yellow
mulch clippings—until the foreseeable lockdown forced treatment
indoors, that is. Soon I learned new games to pass the treatment
hours—tricky games, which required a sharp mind to curve
& bend at unnatural angles. It was the yellow,
always that faded forsaken sunshine of paper;
it snuffed the shadows & painted me the scapegrace:
the ill-fit actor in another woman’s dream, dismissed
in those first waking moments like nothing more than the mist
veil that covers the mirror after a steam bath treatment
prescribed to ease the day’s strain & restore feminine grace,
yet once lifted, presents a different picture, a curve
in reflection no longer fitting the scene. Say the paper
was a façade, that a whole world lurked behind the yellow
face where demons—both mine & theirs—wore gentle yellow
eyes of compassion rather than dismay, & who dismissed
doses & never questioned patches of displaced paper,
nor the line worn thin by the moon’s restless light. The new treatment
restricted my activity to bed rest in an attempt to recurve
my appetite & want for wellness. I knew my disgrace
better than they, journaled about it with measures of grace
until even that was taken away. The yellow
becomes me. I can see this truth in the curious curve
their eyebrows make when they observe how they could’ve missed
stripped & purged whole sections of that awful wall treatment,
or the flower bouquet I’d spent months pruning from paper.
If I tell you I’ve found the way through a curve they missed,
by grace, would you follow me into the yellowed paper?
Grab my hand. There’s no room for maltreatment beyond these walls.
In reaction to Solitude by Elena Oleniuc:
And Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Hush Lil’ Baby
A well-intentioned voice called out from the crowd:
Never take your eyes off the hand that rocks
the cradle; it’s the one who calls the shots.
It’s tied to the saying in life “You’ll know
them by their fruit.” It’s proven the one
constant in this equation called life: hard
to disprove & harder still to trust.
From the mouth of the skeptic:
Show me the way & I’ll tell you of trust.
Is it trapped in the base of idle rocks?
Or lost upon the tongue with things too hard
to say? Either way, who calls the shots
where honesty is concerned? ‘Tis the one
with the best cards. I’d like to know—
The conscience cried back:
Enough of this talk! Didn’t you know
matters of the heart always rest on trust?
The testing of spirits leads to the one
at the wheel. Perhaps the one who rocks
the boat drowns within his own potshots.
Learning where to place the trust is what’s hard.
To this the voice of the weary pleaded:
You don’t know the first thing about hard!
Such a life of ease is all you’ll ever know.
It’s easy to throw your wit & cheap shots
at the face of adversity & trust.
What about my pockets filled with rocks
of poverty? I’m not the only one.
& the conscience did reply:
A very good question comes from the one
with the rock-lined pockets. It’s hard
to build a foundation of trust with rocks
cut from corruption & spoilage. I know
how it must sound to implore you to trust
such a system firing wounding shots.
Having enough, the abandoned widow proclaimed:
I know a few things about wounding shots.
In my time of need, where was this trusted one?
I could write a book on broken trust,
the life it produces that’s just plain hard
to swallow on a given day. You know
what I’d like to do with this pile of rocks?
A sharp cry from above followed:
Shots rang into the courtyard. Rocks rained down,
& hard, where the people tested their trust.
Did the one with the gun know about truth?