First Year Sestina

Issue 11 | Winter 2023 |



for Ethan


It’s as if I was just born, having not known
or sitting in a white painted room, quiet
as a baby on his back looking
with new walls, new streets, new skin
and dark eyes face up at the curve of the lines
of a black ceiling grate in a wide stretch.

Was it one day or twenty in a stretch
we sat like this, only you and I have known
how the black box of ceiling vent lines
in a room as white captures us quiet,
each with our late summer skin
and the sweat of sitting silent and of looking.

Both contented and not, in a white room looking
on days which stretched, and we watched them stretch
as in silence we bathed our new skin
and unknown, turned over the known,
sometimes making meals, quiet,
exchanging one thing for another like lines

of a play or pristine streets in lines
and of walking up and down each looking.
But for you as you slept on my chest quiet,
so I was together alone for a stretch
in what is known and what is not known
of a body and lines and the curve of the skin.

The curve of the skin and the newness of skin
and of walking together and following our lines
so we speak them in languages, unknown and known
in the bathing and walking and the dullness of looking
and the brightness of looking and the elastic stretch
of what it means to be quiet.

You and I, we were quiet and the streets were quiet,
that whole year was quiet, just us in our skin,
new with dark eyes and days at a stretch
we sat in a white room and followed the lines
of a black ceiling grate and the bond of looking
and this is how we know what we’ve known.

What we have known abides mostly in quiet
and looking from bodies in space in this skin
where lines form and blur, slack, and then stretch.