Sestina for the Well Dressed by John W. L. Toivonen
Our duty to appear fine demands that we clothe
ourselves in a cloth that becomes a golden vest.
Deity requires of us that we dress
so that on the holy day we adorn
ourselves in colors that we arrange
to make of our souls a devoted display.
The law calls forth celebrants to display
that duty lives only when we clothe
each citizen of our class who will arrange
one-hundred lines of the noble who will vest
in a spectacle that will adorn
each of the faithful in immaculate dress.
We ask that each giver of the alms dress
in such colorful and magnificent display
that no paltry soul could hope to adorn
himself so well. It is from praise that we clothe
the sacred body in a perfect vest
that fits so well in the cloth that we arrange.
The perfect eye of God calls us to arrange
ourselves in the correct proportion of dress
that all who attend will remark on the vest
that each of the faithful puts on display
to teach the crude and unlearned how to clothe
their limbs as the pure mind calls them to adorn.
In this marriage of the heart to eye we adorn
each street with people who will arrange
the tunic and chemise so that we clothe
each of the devout in the finest dress.
Study of symmetry call us to display
each pilgrim of the cloth in a pious vest.
No rude work may be done by those who vest
themselves in the calling that they adorn
their arms and legs in such brilliant display.
Knowing color and order we must arrange
each bride to fashion in the finest dress.
We know that the mind most high calls us to clothe.
In the sight of God’s great vest, we will clothe
these citizens who will adorn and dress
in a display the perfect mind will arrange.
© 2016 John W. L. Toivonen
John has published poetry and essays in numerous publications, including Roanoke Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, and The Washington Times. His most recent book of poetry, Song After a Long Campaign, was published by Great Roots Press in 2015.