David Lehman has picked a winning stanza for the Next Line, Please contest hosted by The American Scholar. But it's not over yet: you're writing a sestina so there are plenty of opportunities to flex your formal muscles. Here's what Lehman has to say about the winning entry:
My compliments. Virtually every entry had something going for it, and I loved the enthusiastic way people threw caution to the wind in playing with the sestina form.
For best opening stanza I choose this by Diane Seuss for the coherence of the narrative and the spectacular reiteration of “cave” as a synonym for “capitulate”:
Finally the veins give out and they stick in a port
for the blood draws. Veins cave before the spirit.
Spirit caves before the voice stops the sing-song
of moan and groan that tolls all night like a book
of hymns without words. After a while even fear
caves, like a dress without a body or an address.
Diane Seuss has given us a setting and situation (medical), with an air of resignation that gets abruptly corrected when “even fear / caves, like a dress without a body.” That is a lovely simile and a brilliant turn for the stanza to take.