Love Letters 9: Our Chance

There’s a structure within the structure of this sonnet. The quatrains are all self-contained: the first two lines of each establishes a premise, then is separated from the remaining two lines with a semicolon; the third line begins with ‘So’ followed by a verb to respond to that premise; and each quatrain is closed with a concluding thought and a full stop. All three quatrains have a nostalgic, defeatist tone. The capping couplet is a volta that provides antithesis to the preceding nostalgia.

There is a belief that the capping couplet of a good sonnet should be able to stand alone. Its meaning should be robust enough to work in isolation. I’m not sure I regularly achieve that, but, in this case, I feel I do.

Our Chance
I worried that my world would detonate
Like a grenade, pin pulled, dropped in my lap;
So crushed my hands in prayer to abdicate
The guilt I felt for causing that mishap.
I felt an anchor round my ankles tied
With twisted twine that time would turn to wire;
So grabbed a coward’s cutlass, then dry-eyed
Hacked at our bond of friendship and desire.
I failed to see the invite in your eyes
Because I thought it was not there for me;
So sought instead a sign to advertise
In neon, without doubt, a vacancy.
	I don’t look back to gape, I merely glance
	We had time on the floor, we had our dance.

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