A couple of years ago I entered an international poetry contest (part of my National University MFA in Creative Writing covered poetry) from the now-defunct poethood.com. I received an award and publication for one of the poems I submitted. Here is what the editors of Change of Scenery: A Poethood Anthology wrote in their introduction — “Richard B. Dwyer’s sestina ‘One Life, Traveled’ grabs the challenging fixed form of the sestina and tells a complete story from the road.”
That poem is printed below and is a reflection on my early life as part of a family that moved around a lot (see my bio to learn a little more about that).
One Life, Traveled – a Sestina
We were a family that traveled,
not because we wanted to live
the gypsy life, married to the road,
planting the shallowest roots possible,
always next to highways that lead
from one moral ambiguity to another.
Avoiding truth as if it were another
gypsy passing on the roads we traveled,
never knowing if truth could lead
anyone to a place where they could live,
pretending that somehow it would be possible
to actually stop and contemplate the nature of the road.
And there is not a part of my life that the road
did not touch with her sticky fingers. Yet, on another
day I would see truth, thinking it was still possible
to have so little and to be so well traveled
exhausting my youth, learning to live
with or without truth, following the road’s lead.
How could I know then where the road would lead?
How could I know if Truth were still traveling the road?
How could I know when I would begin to live
giving life permission to draw me into another
place where Truth so recently traveled
to show me life in terms of what was possible?
So I asked Truth, “What is possible?
To follow or to lead?
And where is the end of this road so wearily traveled?”
I looked back for a moment, so many painful stops along the road.
And Truth whispered as she passed by, “You will find another
road to travel. Just one more and, finally, a place to live.”
“Because I live,” she said, “you will live.”
“Because I live,” she said, “you will find what is possible
in a place away from the road,
in a place where you will find another.
And she will take your hand and make you forget the road
that you have so painfully traveled.”
And rest comes to another who has traveled
on a weary road seeking what was possible,
choosing not to lead nor to follow, but simply, joyously to live.