Instructions for Survival -- A Sestina

By Ellen Mary Raster - Elm Grove, Wisconsin, USA - 18 February 2015



At times a prick appears within one’s heart.

Last night, a friendship swiftly cracked then broke.

Invisible, a nettlesome hair shirt covered

My soul. Remembering the loss, I walked.

If barbs take root go court comfort.

Look to the list below.  Transform the sting.


First task, and this is hard: accept the sting.

Arms wide in cruciform, ignore your heart.

Move pain to one side of the soul. Comfort,

That weight is just a bruise, there’s nothing broken.

Silence comes back from where it walked.

A welcome mate, hushing is kind cover.


Second, less difficult: ask God’s cover.

Too many slights, and many painful stings

Were borne by Him when long ago He walked.

Put your wound into His -- His crown, or heart?

Or hands, or side from where the mercy broke

Free, a flow from stab of lance?  Place yours, and His comfort.


To make sure (Third:) your charge did not wander,

Attempting entry to your park of peace, cover

Your bet.  Look, Abba Father  never broke

His word to His children.  Give Him the sting

Now found in a wound yet hurting your weak heart.

He’ll make it glorious -- boundless comfort.


For Four, try trust: seek not only comfort.

Again to Father God, all love, wander.

He will replace the part crushed in your heart.

Thank Him before it’s done.  That will cover

Holes from all tests, especially this sting,

Reminding you it was a bruise -- not broken.


And fifth, final advice for friendship broken

In two.  Repeat the list until comfort

Comes sneaking softly in to pull the sting

Out of the eyes and soul.  Repeat ‘til thoughts wander

Out of reasons.  Keep free your open heart,

Yet know loss comes again, no way to take cover.


When other stings wander with pain to hearts,

Remember, nothing broke.  Cover with grace.

Say thanks to God, He’ll do the hardest parts.