The Gift

 

It all began when the king and queen had, not

an ordinary child, but an exceedingly ugly child,

a boy with welts that covered his body. So many

welts, in fact, that the local wiseman brought a gift

of skin to mend the baby’s body, but the blood

in the boy would not flow to the new skin, so the man

 

was killed. It was seven years before an old man

who had heard of the ugliness (news of ugliness, not

beauty, traveled slow) decided to risk his blood

and bone in a humanitarian attempt to save the child

from the welted fate. He thought of a different gift

and the tale of a better cure. He set off and for many

 

days he traveled to the palace and after many, many

nights he pondered the result of failure, until this man

knew that he must succeed. He took a violin as his gift

and a story of how the boy would cure himself and not

be welted for life if the boy learned, while a child,

to play better than any other. The king, whose blood

 

ran cold, swore at his wife’s bedside, that all blood

would flow of those who threatened the cure. Many

years passed and much practice and scales for the child

until it was obvious that the boy (soon to be a man)

had, not only welts, but he had no musical ability. Not

only did he hold the fiddle wrong, he even dropped the gift.

 

One day the king declared a purge of the kingdom so gift

and prophecy would come true. If any violin was heard, blood

of the fiddler was shed. The killing continued until not

a person was left who could play any tune but the boy. Many

more years passed and it seemed that the cure of the old man

was false for the welts that were once the welts of a child

 

were now the welts full grown and the noise that a child

makes on a fiddle had never improved at all. The gift

was a source of embarrassment to the king for the old man

had died long ago. Then one night while all was still, blood

of the king ceased to flow. The queen cried. The son of many

bumps became king. A new crown of gold was forged so as not

 

to cramp the king’s welted head. Not a man, woman, or child

gossiped about the many hours the king played on his gift

for better to have no blood shed and the hope of a patient man.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________

My one and only sestina, written in Centrum poetry workshop 1978

The Gift

7 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. Hurrah, kudos. for a first try at a sestina, this is excellent! Your fairy tale was fetching enough, the form took a back seat to the narrative. I think that this is one of the better efforts found out here on the trail.

    Like

  2. This is a really dark fairy type tale, as I guess they should be. If I hadn’t known you were doing this as a sestina it was still great but even more amazing the way you effortlessly let the lines flow. Excellent enjambement technique too. I loved the way you used ‘not’.

    Like

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