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Poem: "Hope of the Future" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Hope of the Future"

There is a blog carnival running, A Carnival of Aces, on the theme of asexuality.  The current topic is "coming out."  I read about this over in asexuality.  So I thought it would be interesting to revisit one of my asexual characters, Hope, whom you may remember from "The Underground Gardens."  (You can read more about this series on my "Serial Poetry" page; I've added an entry for it.)


Hope of the Future


Hope was a calm and patient boy
In whom the gods took such great joy
They lent him their magic to employ.

While other boys were chasing girls,
Hope prayed his magic into swirls
And turned the falling rain into pearls.

A few boys chased the other boys,
But Hope cared nothing for such noise --
He was too busy practicing poise.

There lay a silence deep within
Where others' lust made storm and din,
And Hope was pleased with what lay therein.

Not for him, the courting and strife;
Not for him, a husband or wife;
Only the road, and a cleric's life.

Hope told his Da, who raised a shout;
Then his sister, who frowned in doubt;
But it was his Ma who threw him out.

Hope set out on the journey-road,
Prodded by gods and magic's goad,
Until he came to the town of Spode.

There he met with an elven bard
Fallen on times both dark and hard,
Sitting alone in a silent yard.

Elan confessed to Hope the cause
And how he'd crossed his people's laws:
Not elves, but dwarves, hooked his heart in claws.

Hope just shrugged, and said, "That is fine --
I don't care where hearts draw the line --
If you don't mind that no one hooks mine."

Elan smiled and tipped his head.
"Let us be friends," the young elf said,
So it was as friends they shared Hope's bed.

Elan could hunt as well as play;
Hope was happy to take such pay.
They stocked their packs, and went on their way.

They found a fighter, going west --
Druga the dwarf, hair in a crest --
And invited her to share their rest.

Camp they made by a creek so clear
It yielded fish with nary peer
And they ate their supper with good cheer.

They spoke of roads, and why they'd roam;
Druga had left her dwarven home
For loving elves, she said with aplomb:

"It's not a thing for laying blame;
I'm gruff and strong and fierce as flame.
I don't need a love who's just the same."

"I'm different than that, as you can see,"
Said Elan, leaning on his tree.
Hope just chuckled, and said, "Don't mind me."

Elan and Druga spent the night
In Druga's bedroll, bundled tight.
Hope slept alone, and that was all right.

Two became three, and on they went,
Pooling their funds to buy one tent,
Forming a family without dissent.

Heroes they were, young and untried,
Confident that fate would provide.
They had each other.  They'd find their stride.

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17 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
wolfbrotherjoe From: wolfbrotherjoe Date: April 28th, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
You might want to change the wording there for "So it was as friends they shared Hope's bed.", because especially when you use similar phrasing later for Druga's entrance, it sounds like Elan and Hope had sex. Which, of course, would make Hope *not* asexual.

Other than that, it seems all right...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 28th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

"As friends" means sharing bed space without having sex. One drawback to poetry -- especially metrical poetry -- is that it doesn't have room for detailed explanations.
wolfbrotherjoe From: wolfbrotherjoe Date: April 29th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

That's how I took it, but it broke the flow for me. I stopped and went, "Wait, what? Where did that - ... Oh, right. She probably means..." It's a lovely poem, I just tripped halfway through.

So if you want to portray that they were sharing a bed, perhaps...

Elan smiled and let loose the stress he wore.
"Let us be friends," the young elf swore,
So they shared Hope's bed, but nothing more.

Or something like that? Just tossing out ideas. *^_^* I don't mean to be rude or anything, it's just the sort of feedback I'd hope to get on my writing.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 5th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Ya know (and I understand I'm late coming to this), I parsed it for the meaning she pretty much intended, despite knowing full well what 'sharing a bed' often means. 'Course, I'm asexual, so that might have something to do with it. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Oh, good. I was hoping it would work from that perspective. This feedback is very useful.

Two factors at play here:

1) I was deliberately playing against the presupposition that sharing a bed equates to sexual intercourse.

2) They pretty much had to share. Elan didn't have a blanket and couldn't afford a bed of his own. Hope wasn't willing to leave him in the lurch.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 5th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Well, it did seem to get a couple folks to double-take. :)
eseme From: eseme Date: April 29th, 2011 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
This is fun. I remember Underground Gardens.

Oh look, you have another serial!

I quite like the house they make together.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 29th, 2011 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>This is fun. I remember Underground Gardens.<<

Thank you!

>>Oh look, you have another serial!<<

Yes, and I've updated the "Serial Poetry" page accordingly.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 5th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Would you believe I've only NOW gotten to this poem?

I rather like it. :)

One question, though, is Hope intended to be aromantic as well asexual?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Would you believe I've only NOW gotten to this poem? <<

Wow, I would've thought you'd see it earlier. I'm glad you found it now.

>>I rather like it. <<

Yay!

>>One question, though, is Hope intended to be aromantic as well asexual?<<

I'm ... not sure how to frame that. This may be a matter of trying to apply terms to another culture that doesn't necessarily see things the same way.

Hope is sweet in a way that I'd often call "romantic."
Sometimes he does things for Druga and Elan that I'd consider "romantic."
He doesn't do those things in quite the way that I'd typically call "courting" though.
He isn't looking for a romantic partner to peel off with; he's attached himself to Druga and Elan.
He considers them his family, in a manner more akin to spouses than siblings, but it's a bit blurry since they're adventuring buddies too.
His gender identity is neuter.

I don't think any of them are terribly concerned about terms or norms or what people think. Sometimes my characters tell me things, other things I have to infer. So I know for sure that Hope is asexual, but romantic orientation is a clue hunt. Another example, I know Lian is transsexual and solitary, but ace or celibate is a guess.

I've got another poem in the series that hasn't been published yet. I can send you that backchannel and see what you think.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 5th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Okay, from that and the other poem, I'd say he's a polyamorous, biromantic asexual. (... That's a mouthful, innit?) And thankfully those terms have enough leeway for Hope to fit. :)

Just for clarification, over on the AVEN side of things, we look at romantic and aromantic as sort of a sliding scale (with demiromantic in the middle) of how much one desires to pair bond in a romantic fashion.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>Okay, from that and the other poem, I'd say he's a polyamorous, biromantic asexual. (... That's a mouthful, innit?) And thankfully those terms have enough leeway for Hope to fit. :) <<

That makes sense, given what we know so far.

>>Just for clarification, over on the AVEN side of things, we look at romantic and aromantic as sort of a sliding scale (with demiromantic in the middle) of how much one desires to pair bond in a romantic fashion.<<

That's useful. *ponder* Though it does also highlight something I was fiddling around in Hope's description: the difference between a romantic personality or behaviors versus a desire for romantic connection with a partner(s).
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 5th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Perhaps a better way to describe 'romantic' in the context we use it is 'emotionally intimate'. I don't know if that clarifies or not.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Emotional intimacy is certainly one factor. Bonding is another: the establishment of a close, long-term relationship equating to family. English has a lot of lexical gaps in this area, and mainstream culture has a very limited view of what constitutes family. The only legal options for creating formal bonds are sexual (marriage) or parental (adoption). People who want something else are just shit out of luck.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 7th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Why can't you have a non-sexual marriage? (Or am I just reading that point wrong?)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

It's possible to have a non-sexual marriage. However, people assume that married people have sex and that the base purpose of marriage is procreation. Regrettably America only offers one form of marriage. Some other cultures offered MANY forms -- depending on whether or not children were desired, or property was involved, how many people were involved, what timeframe was intended, etc. There have been legal squabbles over whether people with particular conditions, including infertility, should be allowed to marry at all. There are often consanguinity rules because of the assumption of reproduction.

There is little opportunity for two people to designate themselves as significant others in a nonsexual way that conveys the same effects as marriage for people who are functioning as a social unit. Civil union, available in some areas, is deliberately left inferior to marriage and is often looked down on accordingly. That's awkward. In addition to the social ineptitude, there are practical considerations: the state's only legitimate interest in people's sex life has to do with the socioeconomic effects; i.e. such people often do major things like buying houses together and are enmeshed in each other's lives, and so that needs to be accounted for in taxes, pension benefits, emergency decision-making, etc. The lack of coverage for some types of family arrangements doesn't just cause headaches for the individuals themselves, but for everyone who interacts with them.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 7th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

And if two people of opposite gender simply live with each other long enough, then they risk being considered bound by common-law marriage, whether they want to or not. Kinda crazy, innit.
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