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Our prompt for Day Seven comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us all to write a tritina. The tritina is a shorter cousin to the sestina, involving three, three-line stanzas, and a final concluding line. Three “end words” are used to conclude the lines of each stanza, in a set pattern of ABC, CAB, BCA, and all three end words appear together in the final line.

Confused? No problem — here’s an example!

Tritina for Susannah

The water off these rocks is green and cold.
The sandless coast takes the tide in its mouth,
as a wolf brings down a deer or lifts its child.

I walked this bay before you were my child.
Your fingers stinging brightly in the cold,
I take each one and warm it in my mouth.

Though I’ve known this shore for years, my mouth
holds no charms of use to you, my child.
You will have to learn the words to ward off cold

and know them cold, child, in your open mouth.

–David Yezzi

Here’s my tritina:

Tritina for Tiree’s Ringing Stone

From Balphetrish over moorland lies the way
to where the ringing boulder sings its song
when struck with stones beside the dark grey sea.

They say you came from Rhum across the sea
carried by ice sheets, left upon the way,
erratic filled with melody and song.

and if you split and shatter on that way
where seals swim in the brooding dark grey sea
Tiree will sink beneath the ocean’s song –

the sea way silent, gone the ringing song.

When set a form as the main aim, I find it difficult to settle on a theme.  The words of David Yezzi’s poem led me to the sea and the Ringing Stone on the island of Tiree where we walked last summer. The stone is a glacial erratic which stands on the north side of the island west of Balphetrish village. In the Neolithic Period it was carved with many cup-marks which suggest it was of symbolic significance to the people of that period. It is known in the Gaelic language as ‘Clach a’ Choire’ and, also ‘The Gong Stone’ due to the ringing, metallic noise it makes when struck with another stone. There are a number of legends associated with the stone, one being that if the stone is ever split open the island of Tiree will disappear beneath the waves.

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