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sestina for the summer solstice

By Claire McNerney in Issue Three, March 2022

dot the j and cross the seven.
upcoming in neon, in oppressive heat
we dream with night-opened windows.
too-small frogs can’t eat the mosquitos,
preparing the party, the cake is neat
but in this rotting mansion we’re still far from heaven.

the kid still thinks cream cake is heaven—
she wears a nightgown, only seven.
awake from a dream, sees the kitchen neat,
something rare in this dulling heat.
where’d the adults go? like mosquitos,
they disappeared out of open windows.

in our stupor, far away from any windows,
us partygoers think we’ve found heaven.
in reality, we’re surrounded by mosquitos,
but their buzzing sounds a band of seven.
it’s not dancing weather with this heat,
our dresses stained, no longer neat.

the ragged swampland isn’t neat,
but hidden within it are windows
to a world of endless wine and heat
where men and women find a heaven—
the kid searches all night, but she’s only seven.
all she sees are mosquitos.

swarms and swarms, the delicate mosquitos
suck our blood patiently, leave the wound neat
with their tongues, we’d itch till seven
but can’t see back to our entrance window,
we cannot see out of our heaven.
so let us dance, dance in the heat.

the child, searching, melts in the heat.
we succumb to the mosquitos.
if we are to die, we die in heaven.
the rotting house, it’s cream cake neat
croaking frogs through broken windows.
the kid is only seven.

if we were mosquitos, we would see through the windows
the heat would reveal itself as too true to be neat.
she is only seven, too young for heaven.

© Claire McNerney

Claire McNerney

Claire McNerney is an actor, student, and writer from California, where she currently attends UCSD. She enjoys, among other things, sitting outside in the evenings. Follow her on Twitter @claire_mcnerney or Instagram @o.h.c.l.a.i.r.e to say hello and see what she does next!

Poetry by Claire McNerney
  • sestina for the summer solstice