Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Sestina: Family Patterns

My mother spread brown paper
on the kitchen table, drew
the outline of a pattern,
sketching until finding a shape
revealing contours, creating
a unique fashion picture.

My father wanted a picture,
a written trail of paper
as he spent his time creating
the perfect school. He drew
on teachers, students , to shape
each day into his pattern.

Aunt Rose discerned a pattern,
when scanning every picture
in Vogue, learning the shape
of next year’s clothes. She used paper
clips, her place marks, when she drew
up her wants, she said, “Just creating.”

My grandmother crocheted —one oval shape
added to another. She told me of her mother creating
landscapes and portraits out of paper
cut-outs, the art of the scissor. Patterns,
emerged, an archival testimony. A picture
of her Polish roots. Like her mother, she also drew.

Cousin Mel painted his car, creating
dragons, shark teeth on the hood. No pattern—
just acrylic colors flowing. He drew
a psychedelic fluorescent trip. A picture
belonging to him. I copied his figures on thin paper
using pen and ink to bring out each shape.

My Uncle Max, the black sheep of the family, drew
inspiration from caves. He found a shape
of life bordering between a watery picture,
stalactites and risks. He balanced creating
an ordinary life with a pattern
of reading of his exploits in the local paper.

I found a pad of paper and drew
a schematic of our patterns, the shape
of creating a family picture.

Linda Watskin ©2010

Big Tent Poetry "Come One, Come all"


  1. What a wonderful way to record family patterns, Linda...I found myself saying "Oh, I remember that!" numerous times, so you helped to trigger a few memories here. Carry on your fine family tradition, lady...keep writing your great patterns, shaping a story...

  2. I'm a sucker for a good sestina, and this is one! I like your keywords, too.

  3. Excellent sestina! Wow, I really like this piece. Your end words worked well with many meanings. Great writing.

  4. Terrific, terrific! A wonderful family pattern - a mandala of words.

  5. I don't ordinarily care for the sestina. They usually seem forced, it's like reading someone's solved crossword. This works very nicely, though. I think I like Aunt Rose best--a talent I would love.

  6. This was a very creative and interesting way to use the prompt. I love how you drew a family picture recalling the way each member found art and inspiration. Really great! I've never tried a sestina. You are inspiring me to stretch and get disciplined.

  7. I think I might go cross-eyed maintaining the pattern! Yours creates a family picture.

  8. It's those patterns that shape us into what we become.

  9. It's a delightful drawing of family patterns. I enjoyed reading. Bravo!

  10. i am a big fan of the sestina -- and the form is really suited for your content. excellent choice!