I recently attended John Moore’s 90th birthday party. Two of his daughters and a grandson died in Jonestown, and I have become a surrogate daughter and sister to the survivors in the family, just as they have become my surrogate family. During the party, we all expressed our feelings of loss over my friends Annie and Carolyn. Grief was on my mind. It was the starting point for these cinquain poems.
Cinquains were developed in the early 1900s by an American poet to resemble Haiku. Like haiku, they follow a strict form, and challenge the writer to work within it.
In its strictest form – which these are not – the first line of a cinquain is the one-word two-syllable title. The second line has two words and four syllables describing the title. The third line has three words – and six syllables – that express an action. The fourth line has two words – and eight syllables – that express a feeling. The fifth and final line has one word of two or three syllables.
aching, rippling, engulfing
Hurry TIME! Release me!
rebuilding, reviving, ignoring
day at a time
searching, learning, climbing
where am I led?
(Laura Johnston Kohl, who had lived in Jonestown but was working in Georgetown on 18 November, died on 19 November 2019 after a long battle with cancer. She was 72. Her writings for this website appear here.)