Berry Sestina

June 21, 2006

A poem written to be read at Inkstravaganza: the celebration of Inkberry’s first five years.

BERRY SESTINA

The best bush we know, the staunch inkberry:
“Even by roadsides and in waste places,” its hall
-mark is blooming and bearing fruit to pluck,
Like a writer never short on ink to pen
A deeply-rooted ode. We planted one, just five
Short years ago, chasing down a dream.

Who could have known, in those days of dream
How many late nights would arise at our ‘berry,
Or early board meetings, waking at five,
Carrying the Box o’Joe down the silent hall.
Rainy mornings we’d leave the windows open,
The scent of lilacs near enough to pluck.

Starting this nonprofit took a lot of pluck.
No idea what we were doing; we didn’t dream
Of budgets or IRS forms, scrawled over with pen.
We fantasized poets, novelists, Wendell Berry…
(His refusal was polite.) What hallowed hall
Would someday hold our posters, framed, five

Years’ worth? We couldn’t fathom turning five.
Yet here we are, the strings we first plucked
Reverberating gloriously through this hall.
This sweet machine runs like a dream.
Mark Doty, Alicia Ostriker, Bob Hicok, Drinkberry…
(To think we considerd the name “Mountain Pen!)

A female swan, too, is called a “pen”
And this duckling is turning swan, at five.
So many writers have come here to bury
Their seeds in our soil. Plays, plots of pluck,
Poems: our pages unfurled like dreams.
We’ve come a long way since Donald Hall

Set foot in the Main Street Stage’s hall,
Autographing books with the rector’s pen.
The house that night was packed — what a dream!
So nervous, we picked him up at five…
If we’ve learned anything about roses, it’s “pluck,
But leave some blooms to fruit into berries.”

Down the hall, more years. May the next five
Give rise to pages from our pens, the pluck
Of following a dream…and joy in our berry.

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