Hear a Sestina – “The Meeting”

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The Meeting


My fiancé’s lover hugs me, tells me she loves me, folds
Me quick and hard against her, her cognac breath
Sweet, almost pleasant. Her sweater, the color of doves
Is cashmere, unfolded from tissue, to impress, to best
Me and my diamond, this mid-dream surprise calling
Late, tracking my beloved on hitched breath: Is he

There, please. No, she had whispered, sleep-confused, he
Isn’t; who is this, please? We are polite, awkward. I imagine she folds
Back her comforter, sits up, gathers her spleen, who’s calling,
She asks, careful, now, sharp. I could so easily hang up. I’m breath-
Less. Instead, I give her both my names, lyrical, I use my best
Musical tone, accusation-free, commiserating. I purr like doves.

She pauses. I tell her how dumb I feel calling, how desperate. I dove
Right in – he has not been home for days, I confess, pathetic; he
Hasn’t called, I found your letters, your telephone number, my best
Guess is that I’ll come home, and he will have moved out, folded
Up the tent. She grows quiet. She senses my lost nerve, my raced, breath-
Tightened voice. Her tone goes low, intimate. Oh, God, thank you for calling.

And she recites verbatim the letter he’d sent her, breaking up without calling.
Her careful, academic accent rubbed raw, she whispers, Man, everything dove-
tails now, everything finally makes sense; she doesn’t take a breath
her questions burble, barter: when did he, you know, did you and he,
get back together. Dating four years? she repeats. We lay out his lies, unfold,
Disassemble them. I’m so sorry, we tell each other, so sorry. Maybe we best,

She suggests, call him at work, give him something real to think about. Not the best
Option, I beg off. She laughs, when nothing’s funny. I swear, it’s my calling,
she says, hooking up with these god-damn freaks. I take them into my fold.
What a frigging piece of dog-crap this man is, she yells, hawk to my mourning dove.
Will you call again, can we meet? she asks my sniffles. Wouldn’t he
Just shit if he knew? I know it hurts, but please don’t waste your breath

Or your tears, he doesn’t deserve it, she says, wrangles her own long breath.
Let’s be twenty-first-century and get together, wouldn’t it be a gas if we became best
Friends? She is seated in the blue of the bar, older, prettier, a PhD, a woman he
Met from an ad. She’s already had two brandies, a bent cigarette, admitted to calling
Her shrink for an emergency session, her hands worry the neck of the turtle-dove
Cashmere sweater, fondles her good pearls, plucks and pleats the sharp folds

Of her gray, prissy skirt. Really, thank you for calling, she says, though she folds
Her arms defensive. I spill like coins, the other names he had left careless. Her breath
Snags sharp, her eyes go chary as doves. She’s best, she knows. I take the first cut.

Sestina Code

1 = folds
2 = breath
3 = doves
4 = best
5 = calling
6 = he
Stanza 1 = Folds, breath, doves, best, calling, he
Stanza 2 = He, folds, calling, breath, best, doves
Stanza 3 = doves, he, best, folds, breath, calling
Stanza 4 = calling, doves, breath he, folds best
Stanza 5 = best, calling, folds, doves, he, breath
Stanza 6 = breath, best, he, calling, doves, folds
Stanza 7 = Calling folds/he breath/doves best

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