Thanksgiving Sestina


Thanksgiving Sestina
(For Nadia)

At the center of this house, I have lit a candle
to call back into my heart, my life, the spirit
that enters my flesh with the sound of a drum,
the thin membrane in my chest, that began the dance
we celebrate in the harvest we’ve kneaded into bread,
that we receive, bless, break, and serve with wine.

For no feast is complete without first serving wine
that sets our flesh aglow, our bodies like bright candles,
quickening our cells like yeast that makes bread
rise from a soft mound and expand, the way our spirits
move outward to embrace lovers, and we dance
to the rhythm in our wrists, calves—echo of the drum

beat that shortens our lives—noise of the drum
born from bleats that tore the morning air before wine
spilled hot on the ground, and later that night we danced,
ate, cured the hide around the fires where our candles
first sparked, joining the round that draws spirit
to water, to the fragrance in the mystery of bread—

music of crushed seeds, folded into loaves of bread
held between the palms like the toom of the drum
in the trembling altar of my shoulders, signal of the spirit
coiling up the snake of my spine, like fermenting wine
exploding inside my head, a thousand candles
ablaze behind my eyes and I rise and dance.

For how can I resist the pull of this dance?
Unseen yet felt, like the miracle of bread
made real in our hands and mouths, the way candles
awaken our bodies to the fire in the skins of drums,
in the pulp of grapes we squeeze into wine
surrendering their essence like the spirit

anointing our bones and hearts (for spirit
sanctifies clenched fists and open hands) in the dance
of the earth, fire, air, and water, fluid as the wine
poured into our lives, leavening hurts and loves like bread
made in the heat of the fire, cooled by drums,
the song of our souls, like the breath of candles.

So I will cup my body around this candle and dance.
Give thanks to the spirit with music, bread,
and wine, fruits of the earth, made one with the drum.

Except from Dub Wise 


Kyra said…
Mr. Philp -

Lovely, haunting Thanksgiving poem.


Devine said…
It's lovely and inspiring poem. Happy Thank's Giving Day!
Geoffrey Philp said…
Dear Kyra & Devine, thank you and sorry for the double post, but i gotta go fix the black beans and rice--Jamaica/ Miami/ Latin style Thanksgiving dinner with a little vino, of course.


Happy Thanksgiving, again!
Anonymous said…
In Sesotho we say, "Leboha." That's the equivalent of Bob's and your "Give thanks" phrase. Leboha /lay-BOO-ha/

I just read a blogpost by someone saying that sestinas are so hard to write, that anybody will usually write just one.

I gave up on a sestina I'd begun long ago. my admiration here is therefore twofold: (1) This poem is good, and (2) I threw in the towel.
Geoffrey Philp said…
Leboha, my brother
BLUE said…
vino, black beans and rice and a lovely sestina. that's how to cook. light!
Stephen Bess said…
Geoffrey, this poem is beautiful! The imagery is amazing!

"...a thousand candles ablaze behind my eyes and I rise and dance."
FSJL said…
Very nicely done, Geoffrey.
Geoffrey Philp said…
Give thanks, Fragano.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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