“Sestina for the Falling Autumn Light” by Marc Alan Di Martino

Marc Alan Di Martino


Time strangles anything it strains to hold,
tangles the whistle of a passing train
into refracted pitches, a refrain
as Now recedes in squall. Tally the gold
dust on the telescope, polish the trick
mirror. Your image flickers like a wick.

Your image flickers like a candle’s wick
in time’s dense mirror. What you cannot hold
is all there is. Arrive, depart. The train
warps through the station’s prism, its refrain
refracted coordinates. Fade to gold:
the sun goes down like a child’s magic trick.

The sun goes down like a child’s magic trick
trapped in the squall of a departing train
to Nowheresville. This backbeat’s crack refrain
refracts the scene in its mad mirror’s gold
pitch dark at rainbow’s edge, its flaming wick
a fire no individual can hope to hold.

A fire no individual can hope to hold
awaits at rainbow’s edge: a trigger, a wick
unravelling time. Strike chorus, refrain,
backbeat, tempo, music—the faded gold
of thought, our consciousness’ greatest trick,
clacking along indeterminately. Train

clacking along indeterminately, train
with no conductor, accumulate refrain
of themes, associate music—stick, wick
and flame bound up together by some trick,
evolutionary sleight-of-hand. Hold
me, stroll with me through all this falling gold.

Stroll with me through all this falling gold
no human eye could ever hope to hold.
The trees are candles, incandescent. Wick
by wick, performing nature’s magic trick,
their glitter wanes faster than any train,
drains to the dregs its annual refrain.

The brilliance of the wick is in its gold.
Time’s hat trick is to never miss your train.
Find one small hand to hold. Chorus, refrain.

from Poets Respond
October 19, 2021


Marc Alan Di Martino: “Every October I begin to miss the fall colors of the mid-Atlantic region where I grew up. We don’t get them quite the same way where I live now. After a weird superheated summer, it looks like the fall colors have suddenly snapped back. Who knows how much longer we will get to witness their glory?” (web)

Rattle Logo