The Turn

For we mere mortals, the apathetic world keeps turning.
Fanatical time goose-steps forward, ever forward,
leaving behind wrinkles and gray hair, aches and pains.
And a cautious wistfulness takes root in our hearts, 
to turn back the clock, to be granted a do-over.
But Father Time—or perhaps, Mother Time—heeds no one.

If I could be granted a wish, a single solitary wish—just one,
this old Earth would spin backward, until it reached the turn
where I took the path through the easy valley instead over
yon rock-strewn hill. The green valley lay forward,
it’s way smooth and grassy, no challenge to home and heart.
The hill looked enormous, formidable, so I fled from the pain

that can transpire with a challenge met, for the nature of pain
makes one shun an operose endeavor. And not one
to take the more difficult way, I tucked away my heart.
I locked all the doors, ignored the wary words turning
somersaults in my imagination, pushing forward 
against my closed mind. In time, they played dead, rolled over.

Time swept away my eagle’s voice, raucous cries now over.
No sound escaped; even attempting to call out caused pain.
The eagle I was meant to be, folded her wings; forward
momentum ceased. Once multiple paths became only one.
The words became memories as the world turned and turned.
But inside the raging silence, a hatchling stole my heart.

The hatchling became a nestling, then fledgling, bold of heart,
Flew away from a nest that grew cold, its purpose now over.
Then, inside the raw silence, words woke, twisted, twined, and turned,
Called out to the comatose eagle, wakened the pain
of a repressed voice that had grown rusty with age. “You are one
once more,” spoke the words. “The time has come to fly forward.”

Now the eagle shouts her words. Body time-worn she pushes forward,
For though a day late and a dollar short, she still has heart.
Time may march on, train-wreck the body, but silences no one.
If the words are yet on life support, they can be warmed over,
the chill chased away, freeing vocals of moth-eaten pain
that withers the soul when what it is meant to be is overturned.

The eagle in me soars forward, my words far from over.
Letters flourish in my heart, dulls old age’s constant pain.
At long last I am the one I was before I missed the turn.

©2021 KT Workman


(Note: The sestina is a strict ordered form of poetry, dating back to twelfth century French troubadours. It consists of six 6-line (sestets) stanzas followed by a 3-line envoy. Rather than use a rhyme scheme, the six ending words of the first stanza are repeated as the ending words of the other five stanzas in a set pattern. The envoy uses two of the ending words per line, again in a set pattern.

First stanza,..1 ..2 ..3 ..4 ..5 ..6

Second stanza, ..6 ..1 ..5 .. 2 ..4 ..3

Third stanza, ..3 ..6 ..4 ..1 ..2 ..5

Fourth stanza, ..5 ..3 ..2 ..6 ..1 ..4

Fifth stanza, ..4 ..5 ..1 ..3 ..6 ..2

Sixth stanza, ..2 ..4 ..6 ..5 ..3 ..1

Concluding tercet:

middle of first line ..2, end of first line ..5

middle of second line ..4, end of second line..3

middle if third line ..6, end of third line ..1)

Definition of a sestina taken from http://www.shadowpoetry.com/


Image by suju-foto from Pixabay

Published by

KT Workman

KT Workman grew up in the rural South without the benefit of cell phones or the Internet, a time and place that has heavily influenced her writing. To this day, when she puts pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—nine times out of ten her mind veers south onto that old, familiar road. It goes home. KT resides in Arkansas where she writes a wide variety of gothic and speculative fiction, poetry, and dabbles in watercolor painting and amateur photography.

16 thoughts on “The Turn”

  1. This is an excellent piece, KT. Poignant, beautiful, exquisitely constructed. One of the lecturers at the annual Medieval Lecture series some years ago is a professor at Northwestern University in Chicago who specialized in medieval French troubadours. He and his wife, who is also a professor at Northwestern, translated lyrics of the troubadours in a book published around 2012. The book has the French on one page and the translation on the facing page. They gave me a copy of the book. In 2013 I took a class about southern French culture at the university before we went to France for 5 weeks that year. As one of my projects, I found the music to one of the songs that were sung by one of the few women troubadours. I sent the music and lyrics to a friend who is a professional singer. She came to class as part of my presentation and sang the song like a true troubadour. It was very special and moving to listen to her sing that song.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Tim.
      I bet that book is a treasure as well as an interesting look into a part of a culture long gone. I know for me, poetry written long ago is sometimes difficult to understand, owing to the fact that all languages have evolved over time. And I can well imagine how your classmates in southern French culture were thrilled (I would be!) to hear the piece sang in true troubadour fashion. It would be like stepping back in time.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!
      I think I put the 1st draft together in about an hour, then revisited it a couple days later, spending about an hour revising. A few days after that, reviewed and made a few minor changes. So all in all, I’d say about 2 1/2 hours.

      Liked by 1 person

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