I just re-found this sestina online that I wrote many years ago when I was rejected twice by the Concord Art Association. I lived in Concord, MA at the time and very much wanted to fit in. Most of my friends were in Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, and J.P. (as we like to call Jamaica Plain.)
I still love Concord, I loved living there, but I was there because I thought it was a good place to raise my kids – it was, they loved it. But I was a misfit. An introverted zany artistic lesbian didn’t really have a place in a town of coupled heterosexuals.
So I trekked into the city from the ‘burbs regularly and separated myself from my neighbors. But I was really showing the deep divide in my own self. I could look outside and see whatever I see, it’s there if I think it is. When I went to Concord I was replaying what was comfortable about my past. I really wasn’t ready for my future.
Being outwardly identified suited me for many years and Concord allowed me the space to change as much as I needed to when I could handle it. It offered me all the complexity and simplicity I could handle.
So, even though this poem sounds like the gripe it is, it is also a paean to a place that gave me everything I needed to be me.
The Concord Art Association Regrets
Your entry was not accepted. We regret
it wasn’t (enough for us), a work of love.
We liked many of the colors on the whole
but the mass was just something unrelated
to the rest of our show. We hope your work
will have a bright future in another place.
We remember last year you tried to place
another photograph and it was also with regret
we turned you down. Though for that particular work
we found nothing about it (no one could) to love.
It was obscure and a little upsetting in relation
to the rest of our show which we look on as a whole.
Now you may think us ungenerous. On the whole
you are probably right, but this is our place
and we can do what we want whether you relate
to it or not. However we don’t want you to regret
your association with us. We want you to love
us, send us money, but please, no more work.
You see right now we need money to work
on the building we’re in. There’s a hole
in the roof and one wall needs all the love
and attention it can get. Really the place
needs so much, which all costs. I regret
to remind you we need more space for related
works. We’re trying to expand and relate
to lots of different kinds of work
so different people won’t regret
their visit with us but will see the whole
beauty and tranquillity of the place
and come with us, a journey of love
where people of all races, colors, and creeds love
to look and bask and of course bring relations,
friends, and lovers. All are welcome to our place
here where all the world’s magnificent work
can be shown in its entirety, the whole
place filled – with your exception, we regret.
We know you’ll love the whole
work we’re doing for this place.
We can’t relate enough our regret.
(Copyright © 1983-2011 by Pam White.)