Star Sestina

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Sometimes you hear a story like this.
Some lives seem to hang by a star
like the single one in the afternoon sky,
the loveliest one that aligns with your face
when your mother calls, and you go in the gate
left open between the house and the flowers.

I come from women who know what flowers
will stand the salt. And it comes down to this—
summers of sea-thrift beyond the gate
and slender sandwort, a five-petalled star,
and fog and butterflies licking your face
when you lie all day looking up at the sky.

There is no limit to the sky
my grandmother sang, sewing a flower
on a tablecloth with a look on her face,
alike even then, even in this—
that the angel should sit, not the Christmas star,
at the top of the gum tree by the gate.

A driftwood windbreak is the rough gate
to my skeleton beach. I hear the whole sky
empty its birds by a wasted sea star.
Night is a field of a different flower.
Here is her headstone, a prayer. Beside this,
the moon looks down with a quartered face.

I turn the pages of her face.
She sits on a pony, she swings on a gate,
this schoolgirl, this nurse, this bride, and this
new mother, bombs grinding the London sky.
Five times, her broken water would flower.
One of her boys went out like a star.

Her mind drew its margins from the farthest star
and suddenly I am face-to-face,
pressed in the book, with a bone-dry flower.
Here is her heart. I touch its gate
and heaven springs open, taking up the sky
for she comes of women who make much of this—

this is no end, no end to the sky
or the wild flower by the swinging gate
this is your star, and this is your face