A Sestina; or, Sometimes I Write Poetry

For Merry Men: The Female Chorus Laments

(a sestina)


What of those who wish a life of banditry?

Who hold forth with Robin Hood, his Merry Men,

and Marian’s glorious position as lover to He?

Or what of those who hear the hoof steps,

beating hard across the Moors.  We

never cower but sit proud, waiting, behind carriage doors.


Every woman loves an outlaw; throws open doors

To bid him come.  The life of banditry

Never troubles, but instead we,

These lovers of hunted men,

Dance toward danger with familiar steps,

For who courts danger more so or better than he?


And who knows the worth of love better than he?

The hooded, masked, armed man who hides behind doors

And shadows evil’s steps.

This is his life’s choice; not banditry

But justice for him, for his nation, his men.

And no one will he entice more than we.


Can you understand?  Can you see how we

Open our arms, our hearts, our doors to he

That gives us excitement, and danger?  This man

Who slips in through closed, locked doors?

There is a price, though, for this love of banditry.

Follow you, then, in the darling’s steps.


As she reaches the wood, her step

Falters.  She wavers, unseen by him, though seen by we

Who know her heart, her love of banditry.

We, the women left behind while he,

For glory and honor and king and nation breaks down doors,

We suffer behind them, at the will of men.


Yes, men!  Who determine this life of confinement for women,

Who weigh us down with rules, and status of idolatry, until our step

Lags, our hearts despair, for do we not imagine our own selves behind doors?

Do we not, in our love of those Merry Men, see that we,

Instead, take the place of he,

Robin Hood, who incites us to banditry?


Yes, it is not Marian with whom we identify; we know banditry offers escape to men.

But when we dream of He, of the Hood, we long for justice, we trace his steps

In our minds, our hearts, we pray his lawlessness will deign to open our locked doors


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