Silent Drive, or: The Second Sestina Ever

We were studying Bishop's "Sestina" in school, and, after our teacher strongly doubted the ability of any of her students to use such a precise poetic form, I went home and wrote this and gave it to her the following morning (so cheeky).

Though the poem is quite abstract, there is a structured metaphorical path that I can explain if I wish, though I would prefer if you tried to interpret it for yourself first :)

Also, please note that this is a first draft. If I was to rewrite it, I would

It is almost too late when he sees the girl

scurrying into the road, holding a crab.

- Otherwise,  the road is all clear –

He halts with a lurch (a break for his watch);

the girl sits the crab down on the layer of sand

and scurries back down to the sea.


He looks as she follows the path to the sea,

and glances both ways: the road is so clear.

- For hours, all he has heard is the tick of his watch –

The car still in the road, he steps out onto the sand,

and thinks of the could-be-dead girl.

He shuts the car door, and spots the wet crab.


The flesh-pink shell of the tiny crab

is just like the skin of the girl,

though the shell’s pink glaze is overwhelmingly clear,

a liquid pink, like a cool evening sea.

The man cuffs a wrist with his worn wrist-watch,

and follows the crab on the sand.


The claws of the crab pierce holes in the sand

and droplets from when it was last in the sea

drip down and make the holes larger, as if the little girl

stopped and strategically poked at the clear

beds of potential glass with her wee fingertips. The crab

struts on, each step in sync with the tick of the watch,


as if the delicate tock of the watch

is loud enough for the crab

to hear. Together, they pass the dead sand

dunes and trundle to the tips of the sea,

the edge of the ocean. He glances around for the girl,

but she isn’t here. No-one’s here. The beach is completely silent and completely clear.


And it’s now that he sees that his mind has been clear

and so quickly his thoughts turn the sea

broken black and so startled by fear his wrist-watch

cracks like mad and as fast as it came the pink crab

disappears as a hard wind whips in a tornado of sand

and he whips round the orbit of a distant girl.


In time, he will wake with his face in the sand,

and his watch, clear of sound, at the edge of the sea,

and no more will he see the crab or the girl.

The End

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