I had just been teaching my Latin students about chiasm, the literary device that makes a kind of mirror of repeated words, or concepts, or grammatical forms–and often nests the most crucial thing in the very middle. This poem considers the difference in mindset that reading and writing in chiastic structures might promote, compared to our “train of logic.”
In April of 2020, living under stay-at-home orders, my daughters and I began the “Quarantine Sonnet” Project. Each day, we each tried to write a sonnet, and we posted them on the wall of our hallway!
Chiasmus Instead of pounding points from first to last And binding listeners in a logic chain Instead of building steam with each point passed And howling down the steel track like a train In olden days some authors wrote in rest And hid their deepest insight in a cave Symmetric'lly surrounded, thoughts can nest In authors' hearts and readers', light or grave. They need no fierce momentum, no hard race Instead of pumping up they point within They need not drag the listeners from their place Instead of bullet points, a spiral spin. Those authors knew a secret we have lost: The center of this cosmos is a cross.