I asked Meg Harris of Blue Moon Northeast for a poem that I could post, and she has kindly agreed. I am so glad to share her work, and this poem in particular, as it so nicely mirrors something about the undertone of the season...the scaffolding of slowness and observance during these long, dark months. Please enjoy.
On day four the prompt was, "write a poem about an animal." I had the idea to write a double sestina about a sloth. I always felt bad for the sloth; a sin named after it. Or did they name the animal for the offense?
I thought I'd personalize the poem by tying in my reclusive tendencies, the clinical depression, my dormant ways. The sloth keeps an inconstant body temperature – almost reptilian. My normal body temp is 97.3 degrees.
The sloth’s known to maintain a grasp for some fifteen to twenty hours after death. I grind my teeth, even during afternoon naps – when shoved by a resolute drowse into a cavernous sleep.
The sloth is sedentary enough that a symbiotic alga grows in its fur. It is not a disinclination to work, I don't think. But that’s how Webster’s would couch sloth.
In the treetops – that’s where it all takes place – the sloth eats, sleeps, and gives birth while hanging from tree branches.
I'd even planned the end words for the sestina: sleep, bough, suspend, hermit, nocturnal and sloth. All month it’s made me feel out on a limb, this poem, sluggish, idle, like I wasn't getting things done.
There are days when stillness, like a death, is the place where I'm suspended, there, sometimes for hours, I hang.