5. A Miracle for Breakfast by Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
I love the magic Bishop creates with the simple repetition of the words crumb, river, sunlight, coffee, balcony, and miracle throughout this sestina. The crumb in the first stanza morphs into a roll, then a buttered loaf, and finally "my mansion, made for me by a miracle, / through ages, by insects, birds, and the river / working the stone." Likewise, the coffee is by turns a drop, a cup, and gallons. Bishop herself was an accomplished cook. "As a cook I feel I should tell you that soured milk is NOT junket," she once wrote to Robert Lowell.