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The Seamstress's Shop: a sestina poem

Ekphrastic Challenge August 2023

By Rae Fairchild (MRB)Published 3 months ago 2 min read
The Seamstress's Shop: a sestina poem
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

This poem was written in response to the Rattle® Poetry Ekphrastic Challenge for August 2023 and was ultimately not selected. You can find more information here.


The image that this poem was specifically written about can be found here. (August 2023 – Lily Prigioniero’s “Seamstress”)


The Seamstress’s Shop: a sestina poem

The seamstress in her sewing shop, beams of light

Strike her face, air floats, sitting by the open window

Thread tugged, bobbin spins, machine tapping

Needle punches, thread pulled, back and forth weaving

Time-worn hands scrunching up the cloth

Pushed through machine by expert fingers


Fabric turned, needle stabs, narrowly missing fingers

Tired eyes squint through glasses, dust floats in the light

Seam re-adjusted, re-pinned, folded cloth

Gray hair tussled by breeze from open window

Thread taut, thread snap, empty needle weaving

Foot off pedal as machine stops tapping


Seam-ripper pulls out thread as foot tapping

On the floor, waiting for the pedal, fingers

Pluck out broken strands, thread un-weaving

Concentration on her face, illuminated by the light

Hear the bustle of the city through the window

Thread tied, pins set, ready made the cloth


Foot down on pedal, gather up the cloth

Needle flies, jabbing down, spool of thread tapping

Refreshing air sharpens mind, breezy from the window

A careful dance of hands across the fabric, fingers

Move in, move out, needle gleaming in the light

Needle darts in, darts out, thread and needle weaving


Tucks folded, pleats falling, making seams weaving

Fabric taking shape, comes to life the cloth

Pile of buttons sit on desk, glinting in the light

Dial clicks, needle crisscross, needle tapping

As it hits fabric, button held in place by fingers

Fabric flutters in breeze that floats through window


Finished wedding dress held up to window

Beads and sequins swirled, gossamer thread weaving

Seamstress smiles, gentle loving touch of fingers

Flowing fabric, delicate lace, smooth silk cloth

Knocking on the door, knuckles tapping

Sheer sequins sparkle in the light


Dress dazzles in the light; beads shine like glass in window

Music plays, feet tapping; people dancing, memories weaving

Bride spins and twirls cloth; groom turns her, holding fingers

Submitted under MRB

A sestina is a type of poem that utilizes six un-rhymed stanzas with six lines each. The words that end each line of the first stanza are the same six words that end the lines in all the stanzas throughout the poem. These six words are then recycled throughout the poem in a specific rolling pattern. The sestina ends with a three line stanza which uses all six end-line words in a novel pattern. I find the sestina a fun form of poetry to write as you select six words that are integral to the telling of your story. You then twist and weave the lines to fit those six words. Even though it is not rhymed, the same six words give the poem a rhythmic feel.

For more information on how to write a sestina, or many other different forms of poetry, I recommend the following book: The Teachers & Writer Handbook of Poetic Forms, edited by Ron Padget, and published by Teachers & Writers Collaborative.



About the Creator

Rae Fairchild (MRB)

I love to write; putting pen to paper fills my heart and calms my soul!

Rae Fairchild is my pen name. (Because why not? Pseudonyms are cool!)

I do publish elsewhere under my real name, Mary Rae Butler. (Fairchild, an old family surname.)

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Comments (3)

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  • Rulam Day27 days ago

    Love all the beautiful images!

  • This was so creative and I especially loved the wonderful ending!

  • Babs Iverson3 months ago

    Beautifully written!!@ Love this!!!♥️♥️💕

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