“The Spirit Moves You: A Sestina” by Emory D. Jones

You are so pale you must have seen a ghost
No wonder in this old abandoned house
When outside there’s a spreading chestnut tree
Whose rippled reflection shimmers in the pond—
Beyond the pond there is a mounded grave
And all above a beautiful sky-blue heaven.
But now the wind arouses stormy heaven
And awakens from its sleep the shrouded ghost
Where stone cannot now mark a shallow grave
That once belonged to a person in this house;
No life can stir within this muddy pond
Clogged with leaves that fall from this old tree.
Gripping this earth, this ancient sentinel tree
Stretches its limbs and reaches to the heaven
That spreads above and smiles in that old pond
That ripples as if it were touched by playful ghost
Who glides upon the porch of this old house
And dances as if it never knew the grave.
But now it is more serious and grave
As sky now darkens above the ancient tree
And windows glare like eyes in this old house
With not a beam of light from darkened heaven—
Wind devils play in the yard as if the ghost
Is stirring them. And swirling roiling pond
Flings its spray in air above the pond
More fitting for the spirit than the grave
From which escaped the mischievous rollicking ghost;
The air is warm and damp upon the tree
And sun smiles from a sky of golden heaven
And life now seems to return to this old house.
And now you can return to this old house
A place of quiet rest beside the pond
Most familiar under smiling heaven
As flowers decorate the peaceful grave
That rests beneath the greening chestnut tree
And now provides a rest for peaceful ghost.

You sadly remember the one in the grave
Under the shadow of the chestnut tree.
You banish memories of the playful ghost.


First appeared in Belle Rêve Literary Review (2016).


Dr. Emory D. Jones is a retired English teacher who has taught in Cherokee Vocational High School in Cherokee, Alabama, for one year, Northeast Alabama State Junior College for four years, Snead State Junior College in Alabama for three years, and Northeast Mississippi Community College for thirty-five years. He has published poems in such journals as Voices International, The White Rock Review, Free Xpressions Magazine, The Storyteller, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Gravel, Pasques Petals, The Pink Chameleon, and Encore: Journal of the NFSPS. He is retired and lives in Iuka, Mississippi, with his wife, Glenda. He has two daughters and four grandchildren.

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