They come on wheel or crutch to pray at Lourdes. The millions set up camp along the walks. They line the wells that lead to the resort, Awaiting wonderment or mercy. Tales About Saint Bernadette abound. Her heels Engrave the stone where Mary first appeared.

Today in town a rainbow arch appears On the horizon, sudden light at Lourdes, And then is gone. The holy water heals. You catch it as it drips upon the walks In magic pools or mop it up in tails Of blouse or handkerchief. At the resort,

Inside chalets, the Jesuits re-sort Accounts of cures, deciding which appear Miraculous, divine, or fairy tale. The verdict of the Vatican still lords. It doesn't matter that a woman walks

Among the paralytic hordes and heals.

The pilgrims flock, then scatter on the heels Of other sightings. As a last resort, They dip their fingertips in bowls and woks And cross their brows. They have to hike up here To witness Mary manifest at Lourdes. Her silken hood is white, her robe is teal;

The scent of roses, one more tell-tail Sign. She is always silent when she heals. And people always hail her with the Lord's Prayer on their lips. She won't resort To larger acts of awe. When she appears, It is enough for those who see her walk

To revel in her spectra. Then all walks

Of life depart with parable or tale

Of how a vice or vision did appear.

Of how they healed or later could not heal.

Of how they ended up at a resort

And saw or did not see the Light at Lourdes.

She walks on mist, not water, as she heals

Mortality. The tale at the resort,

When she appears, is: Make your peace at Lourdes.

There you have it —a publishable sestina whose end words and pattern serve instead of detract from the form.

Now let's tackle one of the most elusive form poems.

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