Sunday, December 04, 2011

A Villanelle for Barbara Joan

Questions I Wish I’d Asked My Father

The pictures now are neatly filed
The only way I know her
My cousin Joan, who never smiled

I’m guessing she was kind of wild
I have no chance to show her
The pictures now are neatly filed

Nowhere near her mother’s style
Who liked to lace-and-bow her
My cousin Joan, who never smiled

Sullen, sad, unreconciled
Only a flashbulb glows her
The pictures now are neatly filed

She died at twenty, sick, defiled
Time’s river overflows her
My cousin Joan, who never smiled

My father’s sister’s only child
I feel this much I owe her
The pictures now are neatly filed
My cousin Joan, who never smiled

11 comments:

Dona said...

What a great tribute, Susan.

P.S. I have never heard of a Villanelle.

Indigo Bunting said...

Susan, this is beautiful.

Susan said...

Thank you! She was still on my mind when I got a villanelle assignment from my poetry group. I always find it interesting how poetic forms reveal things that might stay hidden in free verse.

Susan said...

PS: Dona, you're probably familiar with Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" ("Rage, rage against the dying of the light"). That's a villanelle.

crystal said...

Beautiful and sad. There are things you can express in poetry that are just too hard to do with normal language.

Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb said...

I love villanelles. I love this one. I remember the photo you posted on FB.

Susan said...

Thanks, Crystal and Lali. You're all such faithful and good bloggers. I'll try to do better in 2012!

Helen said...

I too think this is beautiful. For a long time I thought rhyming poetry was so low brow, but I so appreciate it now.

Susan said...

Helen:

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
I'm so glad Maureen
introduced me to you.

Bridgett said...

I love poems like this. I've never heard of a villanelle but it reminds me vaguely of a pantoum.

Susan said...

Yes, because of the repetition. I love to write pantoums.