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Poem: "Return to Twelve" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Return to Twelve"

This poem is from the August 6, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from ellenmillion and aldersprig.  It also fills the "apocalypse" square in my first card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series Tripping into the Future.


Return to Twelve


This is not the first time
that they have left you.
They have done it before.
You know they will do it again.

They are, in any case,
the enemy -- surely they would
kill you if they caught you,
and a part of you would welcome it.

They are not really here, either,
just hovering out there in space,
somewhere beyond this planet
where you have taken refuge.

There is nothing left of the world
that any of you knew
before you triggered the weapon
that ripped you all through eternity.

It was an apocalypse more complete
than any other seen before,
for all its peculiar manifestation
in tearing you loose from time and space.

The enemy fleet that you attacked
remains intact, merely separated from command,
and now they flit around the local systems
like scouts, unable to settle down.

You are not certain what they search for --
it could be yourself, or their home,
any sign of human life,
or indeed any civilized life at all.

There must be something
because you can hear the babble
of alien signals drifting through the darkness,
coming from and going to unknown places.

They haven't found you, and if
they've found anything else,
there is no sign of it
and they are still roving.

They leave, and every time
you heave a sigh of relief,
and then another of regret
for the echoing silence of space.

They always go away,
and they always come back,
as the hands of an archaic clock
return to twelve.

Something about this place
draws them in, point of emergence
into the inescapable now
that holds you all in its heartless grasp.

Every time they go,
you want to believe that you're safe
from discovery and execution ...
and damned, never to be rightly condemned.

You wonder how long
it would take to go completely mad
from the crushing silence of space
without even their foreign gabble for company.

They are nomads now,
made homeless by your hand;
you cannot help but imagine
they might grow used to it.

When they do return,
the joy and terror of it
crushes you to the ground,
leaving you curled around the receiver.

It is there that Sasha finds you,
the felinoid alien crooning anxiously
and licking the tears from your cheeks
as your shaking hands stroke the soft fur.


There is no way you can explain
that what is broken within you
is something subtler than bone and
less likely to heal than a compound fracture.

You have been listening so long
that some of the foreign voices
have become familiar, certain words
repeating when they come this way.

It is a strange comfort
to be clinging to a receiver
and cuddling an alien cat,
but you will take what you can get.

You know this will not last forever,
neither their presence nor their absence,
for your enemies are what you have made of them,
space nomads, migrating out and back again.

This is not the first time
that they have returned.
They have done it before.
You know they will do it again.

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11 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
natf From: natf Date: August 15th, 2013 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Woah. I really liked this but am going to need to read it more than once. Dark-light and happy-sad.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 17th, 2013 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Yes, the poems in this series are often mixed like that.
From: technoshaman Date: August 31st, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

woof. Yeah. Chewey.
From: technoshaman Date: August 31st, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

or, more correctly, meow.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 31st, 2013 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Like saltwater taffy, sweet and savory.
From: technoshaman Date: August 31st, 2013 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

ye gods, I love saltwater taffy. how did you know?

(I discovered the stuff on Chincoteague Island, they had it at the Misty Museum gift shop... NOM.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 31st, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

;) Great minds think alike. There's a saltwater taffy booth at our county fair some years. They do a good black walnut.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 10th, 2014 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh ye gods and Muses! My Dad loved black walnut ice cream, when he could find it.

To the left, a composting group I tried once specifically excludes b.w. from c composting.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2014 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

I love black walnuts, and black walnut ice cream. But the trees put out juglone, which kills a great many other plants. Definitely something to keep out of compost. However, it makes terrific mulch for places you want nothing to grow, and you can put the hulls in a bucket of water to make weed killer.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 10th, 2014 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Ahhh... Good advice that I have no way to use.

The name "juglone" makes sense to me, as the Esperanto word for "walnut" is "juglando"... Yes, as I typed that the etymology came back to me: Jovis glans, nut of Jupiter.

 …
  …
And after looking that up to check it, I have just spent something like an hour and a half editing and re-sourcing the Etymology section of the Wikipedia article on Juglans, the walnut genus.

Which at least one of our humorists took up as the name of an imaginary country, along with Irlando, Tajlando, Danlando, et al..
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2014 07:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> Ahhh... Good advice that I have no way to use. <<

You never know when it might come in handy, if only for someone else.

>> The name "juglone" makes sense to me, as the Esperanto word for "walnut" is "juglando"★... Yes, as I typed that the etymology came back to me: Jovis glans, nut of Jupiter. <<

Fascinating.

>> And after looking that up to check it, I have just spent something like an hour and a half editing and re-sourcing the Etymology section of the Wikipedia article on Juglans, the walnut genus. <<

I'm glad someone is on top of that stuff.

>> ★ Which at least one of our humorists took up as the name of an imaginary country, along with Irlando, Tajlando, Danlando, et al.. <<

*laugh* Reminds me of Ireland, Thailand, Daneland. I like Esperanto. I have not studied it in depth, but it's a major conlang so I'm familiar with it, and the European base makes it easy to hack.
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