I’m sure that anyone who did level 3 Creative Writing with the Open University will recognise the form of this poem from Gill Standley. I’ve still not managed a sestina of my own, and have huge poetic respect for anyone who has.

Olive – by Gill Standley


I didn’t ever plan to choke the bins so full

and leave things in the garden, all on view.

Couldn’t care one bit if people see,

I just don’t want them judging, thinking me unable

to wash myself or cook a bit of tea. They may draw

up a care plan if they call again today.


Weeds pepper the garden, I counted them today,

mother’s flowerbed overgrown, soon be full

of dandelions and horsetail, the sort of plants to draw

attention, unkempt in someone else’s view.

I’ll chop the grass with father’s scythe, that’s if I’m able

to find it in his shed. I’ll go and see…


Who was it came to see

if I would like a stranger to visit me each day.

I said, forget it, I’m completely able

to take charge of things inside my home, jumbled full

with my possessions. No, they couldn’t view

inside. I was sorting out my special drawer.


This evening before I draw

my curtains, I wander to my window, see

a glint, a world that sparkles just beyond my view.

I rub my eyes and cry for echoes of a day

to carry me to places bursting full

of altered outcomes, and pray some are believable.


I wish he had come home again and we’d been able

to make our bed with linen from my bottom drawer

and join like a married couple should, full

of plans for a family, but all I see

is whiteness aged to yellow. No day

allows me to forget things which are buried from my view.


I stand outside and look at the familiar view;

clutches of biodegradable

bags rustle in the garden. Today

sees a collection of my gathering. I had to draw

the council up a plan for my recycling. I can see

they’ll have to leave more containers; my own bags are full.


A place full of garbage might be someone else’s view,

people only see what they’re able to explain;

I’ll be busy folding sheets in my drawer today…


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