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Narrow black mint mislaid her beauty
amongst the ghosts of last year's choice.
Tiny squatters crowd a sylvan host life;
robust, scuttling, mouldy Spring. The price
of their company expressed in her form.
Final part pending; Calamity's edge.

He bought her hope. Felt for her edge;
choosing bones to bend for beauty.
Feet cut and cast to meet a literate form.
Branches bound with helical tutors. Her choice
and simple habit compressed, his price;
compliance, informal rigor, observant life.

Taste of water, breath of earth; life
celebrates, aspiring to a leading edge,
a tender flag. Her growth redacted; exacted price.
Smoke blessed raku scuffs her novice beauty.
Webbed roots fan new fingertips. Choice
contracted; pared to spare a clever form.

Dreams of folding birds into her open form,
or lofting seeds into sunburnt streams. Life's
exultant broadcast; an endangered choice.
His hands dream to a different metre; cutting edge
and reversible fortune. Mismatched beauty
keeps her wrongfooted; more wood is the price.

Living scrimshaw; a hollow heart is the latest price
for an aesthetic of attrition and frugal form.
Mate for glass and marble, empty beauty,
light and likeness. Lone life
halved and presented. Fine deckled edge,
withdrawn and quartered, a banker's choice.

But the wildlife can also bankrupt choice.
The rivers too, ask a trading price;
dance to their syncopated ebb and flow. Fire's edge
marks a black wake and revolution. Form
feeds a hungry ecology. Still, bounteous life
is not a natural counterpoint for beauty.

Balanced on her vital edge, imperfect form
learning choice and careful posture. Price
war on artless life to win some stoic beauty.


On the Shortness of Life is the title of a work by Seneca,
Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist and, in one work, humorist.
He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero.

This sestina inspired by the life of a Narrow-leaf peppermint,
an Australian Eucalyptus nicholii tree.


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