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Poem: "All the Colors" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "All the Colors"
This poem came from the June 3, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from pocketnaomi. It also fills the "toys and games" square on my 3-6-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"All the Colors"


On Saturday morning, Rosita's birth family
came to visit her foster family.
Danso still felt a little nervous, but
he liked seeing them make an effort
to become part of her life again.

Everything felt new and strange,
and he knew it must be worse for Rosita,
who was so young she couldn't remember them
and each meeting seemed like the first.

Faramundo brought along
a set of linking rings in bright colors,
and Amada had a scrapbook
of pictures and nursery rhymes.

The boys took a quick peek at the baby
and then scattered, more interested
in the new toys they could find.

"Eduardo, do you want to come
play with your sister?" Hannah asked.

"No, I'm good," he said without looking up.
He had discovered the small bookcase
filled with assorted children's books
and was currently investigating
a simplified version of Robinson Crusoe.

Hannah handed Rosita to Amada.
"Say hi to your first mommy,"
Hannah said to Rosita,
who promptly began gumming
the end of Amada's long black braid.

Lakia watched them, the tip of her tail
flicking back and forth along her legs.

"You look as skittish as a cat
in a roomful of rocking chairs,"
Amada said. "Do you want to sit with me
while I'm holding Rosita? We could
get to know each other better."

Lakia flitted over and perched on the couch.
Then she coaxed Rosita to latch onto
a purple plastic ring instead of Amada's hair.

"Should those street kids even be here?"
Faramundo muttered to Hannah.
"I hear people like them have ... problems."

"Hey," Danso protested,
but Hannah lifted a hand
and he stopped reluctantly.

"Please let me handle this,"
she said, then turned to Faramundo.
"This is their home and Rosita's their sister,
so yes, they should."

Faramundo grumbled
but at least he quit complaining.

Amada rocked Rosita
while chatting with Lakia.
"What games do you like?"
Amada asked. "When I was your age,
hopscotch was one of my favorites,
because we could draw it anywhere."

"Hadyn taught me to jump rope,"
Lakia said. "Hannah gave us each our own,
pretty ones with all the colors and handles that spin."

Hannah showed Amada some of the
bonding exercises in hopes of
creating a healthy attachment
with Rosita. "Try eye-gazing,"
Hannah suggested.

Rosita put up with that
for about a minute,
and then started fussing.

"Here, let me take her for a while,"
Danso said. "I can usually
get her to settle down."

Amada passed him the baby,
gentle hands lingering over
the soft ruffles of Rosita's dress.

Danso paced back and forth with her,
past Eduardo at the bookcase
and Hadyn with her dolls,
Nathaniel and Gil playing with blocks,
Fernán asleep on a beanbag.
Rosita soon quieted.

Amada began singing softly,
"De colores, de colores
se visten los campos en la primavera
De colores, de colores
son los pajaritos que vienen de afuera ..."


"Ah ah ah!" Rosita said,
trying to climb up Danso's shoulder.

"Oh, so now you want to go back to your mama,
is that it?" Danso said. "Can you say Mama?"

Rosita just gurgled and waved her hands
as Danso handed her back to Amada.

"Keep singing," Hannah said.
"She's babbling, and babies at that stage
love hearing new sounds."

"De colores, de colores
es el arco iris que vemos lucir
Y por eso los grandes amores
de muchos colores me gustan a mí ..."

Amada sang, Rosita watching her intensely.

At the sound of the Spanish,
Eduardo looked up from his book.
He trundled over to Rosita and said,
"Hola, hermanita."

She squealed, kicking her feet
so that one bootie flew off.

Eduardo grinned and picked it up.
"You are just like your big brother!"
he said. "Gil can't keep his shoes on either."

"Nathaniel is the same way,"
Hannah said.

Indeed, both toddlers had already
lost their shoes somewhere.
Just then, Gil bonked Nathaniel on the head
with one of the soft foam blocks.
Nathaniel sat down and howled.

"No hitting," Faramundo said.
He picked up Gil and walked away.

It took Hannah a few minutes
to soothe Nathaniel.
Hadyn got him interested
in a pair of beanbag dolls.

Meanwhile Amada had moved on
from singing to playing with the rings.
Rosita tugged on the toys as her mother
named all the colors and counted them.

"Azul, rojo, amarillo," Amada said.
"Uno, dos, tres ..."

"If you keep doing that,
she's going to grow up
talking like the Mexicans,"
Faramundo said.

Amada rolled her eyes.
"I speak English just fine,
and so will Rosita," said Amada.

"Bilingual workers earn more
in many job fields," Hannah added.

Danso hadn't known that.
Spanish class at school had seemed
like a waste of time to him,
but if it was good for Rosita and good for work,
maybe he should pay more attention.

It was something he could have in common
with Rosita's first family, or at least
her mother and brothers.

Looking around the room
made him feel a little more secure,
all the colors of family tumbled together
from the pink of Hadyn through the soft browns
of Lakia and the Durante brothers
to the chocolate of himself and Hannah.

They might not seem like a good match
at first contact, but Danso believed
they would find a way to fit together.

* * *

Notes:

Browse some toys and games for a five-month-old baby. There are many favorites including plastic rings.

Robinson Crusoe is one of many classics often condensed for children.

Eye Gazing is one exercise for parent/child bonding. Such exercises help in forming new bonds or restoring disrupted ones.

This is Rosita's dress, not an impractical frill but good playclothes.

See the lyrics for the song "All the Colors."

"Hola, hermanita."
"Hello, little sister."

Toddler toys such as foam blocks and beanbag dolls are fun and safe.

Learn colors and numbers in Spanish.

Some Hispanic people, such as Amada, are happily bilingual. Others such as Faramundo can't or won't speak Spanish, and discourage their children from speaking it, especially if it connects with self-hate. However, being bilingual really can be a career asset. There are tips for raising bilingual children.

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Comments
paka From: paka Date: June 17th, 2014 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that boggles my mind. It'd never occurred to me that a Latino wouldn't know Spanish. Out here a lot of places won't hire you if you're not bilingual, and bilingual means Spanish or maybe Mandarin (only a few people want Korean speakers).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 19th, 2014 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> Wow, that boggles my mind. It'd never occurred to me that a Latino wouldn't know Spanish. <<

It's real, and in many cases deliberate where the parents refuse to let their children learn Spanish, wanting them to assimilate. Every generation in America the percentage of Spanish-speakers in a family tends to drop. So I thought it would be interesting to show how that can play out within a family, because it's something that parents can argue over.

>> Out here a lot of places won't hire you if you're not bilingual, and bilingual means Spanish or maybe Mandarin (only a few people want Korean speakers). <<

It's much more of a thing in some places than others. California, Florida, they have a really strong Hispanic population and lots of people are bilingual. Some of the other southern states have a fair bit too. The farther north, less so.
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: June 23rd, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

That played out in my family as well, though the language in question was Yiddish. My father spoke it; my mother does not. Her father was American born, and both her parents wanted their children to be "real Yankees." None of my cousins are bilingual, and I found out (to my profound chagrin) when I tried to hold a conversation a few years back that I've forgotten most of my active usage skills.

But I seem to have missed something somewhere. When and how did Hannah *et al* find Rosita's family of origin?!?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 24th, 2014 12:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> That played out in my family as well, though the language in question was Yiddish. My father spoke it; my mother does not. Her father was American born, and both her parents wanted their children to be "real Yankees." None of my cousins are bilingual, and I found out (to my profound chagrin) when I tried to hold a conversation a few years back that I've forgotten most of my active usage skills. <<

Sad as it is when languages die out, I think it's sadder when people kill them on purpose.

>> But I seem to have missed something somewhere. When and how did Hannah *et al* find Rosita's family of origin?!? <<

That's in two poems which are written but not yet sponsored and posted: "Wherever We Find Them" and "Climbing the Family Tree." When I printed off poems for my parents to look at, I did it early enough in the morning that I forgot to account for sequencing, so this poem appears out of order and is therefore confusing. Sorry about that.
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: August 13th, 2014 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

When I was a teenager, I asked my grandmother to teach me Yiddish. It was the only time I'd ever heard her swear. What do you want to learn that old-country shit for?!?" she demanded. "You're an American!"

I shut up. But I always wished I had learned it.

What did Rosita's parents name her, and are they still using that name for her? Or have they come to call her Rosita now? Also, how did Hannah manage to retain custody of her despite her bio-parents being found?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 13th, 2014 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> When I was a teenager, I asked my grandmother to teach me Yiddish. It was the only time I'd ever heard her swear. What do you want to learn that old-country shit for?!?" she demanded. "You're an American!"

I shut up. But I always wished I had learned it. <<

How sad. So many people lose their heritage that way.

>> What did Rosita's parents name her, <<

Consuela.

>> and are they still using that name for her?
Or have they come to call her Rosita now? <<

Officially, it's Rosita Consuela now. That lets her keep the name she's used to hearing, along with the first one she was given, and when she gets older she has the option of using either. Amada has pretty well switched to saying Rosita, while Faramundo is clinging to Consuela.

>> Also, how did Hannah manage to retain custody of her despite her bio-parents being found? <<

Because Rosita needs someone who can keep her from teleporting away when she spooks. Hannah and Danso can both control that directly. Rosita also knows the other children well enough to be fairly steady with them. This plays out, in detail, in "Climbing the Family Tree," which should have been posted before some of the later poems only I forgot to lock them so now it's out of sequence and therefore confusing. Sorry about that.

Rosita has the capacity to add people to her sense of family, so with diligent effort and a lot of time, she should be able to bond with her birth family. But she's already had enough disruption with losing her birth family, being on the streets with Danso, then adapting to Hannah. Take them away and Rosita probably wouldn't be able to form a new attachment to anyone else. Really not a good situation. An ordinary baby would just be out of luck, because adults will do as they please and nevermind the damage. A superkid may have power they are compelled to accommodate, and Rosita is one of those.
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: August 13th, 2014 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

If Climbing the Family Tree is one I haven't seen yet (I don't remember what you sent me privately and what you didn't), I'd be happy to sponsor it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 13th, 2014 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

385 lines, Buy It Now = $192.50

If that's outside your budget, it's okay, I only have a handful of donors who can afford to buy the big epics in a lump sum. You can open it for microfunding; I get a lot more people who open an epic with $10 or $20. We've got two open epics now so adding a third would be fine.

I do have "Climbing the Family Tree" tagged as sent to NaomiRivkis, which I think is you. (I suck at connecting screen names to other names, unless they come paired so I can write them down that way.)
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: August 14th, 2014 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Yep, that's me. I'll look to see whether I can find it in my email; I probably did read it but I want to go through it again.

I'd be happy to open a different epic, if I've already got that one. I just don't want to open something I've already read -- there are too many that I haven't, and want to see! (You've developed a mildly sadistic business model, m'lady, in that it is all perfectly calculated to make your customers go mildly mad until they scratch the itch by paying for a poem. But it probably is very effective!)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 14th, 2014 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> Yep, that's me. I'll look to see whether I can find it in my email; I probably did read it but I want to go through it again. <<

Okay.

>> I'd be happy to open a different epic, if I've already got that one. I just don't want to open something I've already read -- there are too many that I haven't, and want to see! <<

You're not alone. janetmiles sometimes sponsors things that she prompted (and therefore gets a prompter copy of) but very frequently picks things that someone else prompted so she can see !even!more!poems! I have a handful of other donors who do that fairly often, and most people have done it at least once. Others will more consistently sponsor stuff they prompted, especially if they are aiming to support a specific motif or characters. I like watching the different strategies that people employ.

Let's see, who-all are you following? "Straight as an Arrow" is the newest Stan & Lawrence piece, fluffy introspection of them processing what they said during "A Walk in the Park." Damask is all caught up, and Danso's family is except for stuff you've already seen. "Nancy Stories" is all new characters but several folks voted for that in the poll, though the general fund wound up split between the open epics.

>> (You've developed a mildly sadistic business model, m'lady, in that it is all perfectly calculated to make your customers go mildly mad until they scratch the itch by paying for a poem. But it probably is very effective!) <<

It is effective! I think it's been, hmm, a year and a half or so since the Poetry Fishbowl officially became my highest-paying project. It's a bit maddening too, but the steady flow of free or otherwise sponsored poetry helps a lot. If you want poetry you can see some, it's just that sponsors get to pick which poems more effectively. Cliffhangers help in the open epics -- we got a good one in "The Impractical Cat" again -- but that's pure chance based on how the donations come in. Some folks who are heavily supporting a series with comments will get a backchannel peek at things, because it helps me develop the storyline.

I aim to make the fishbowl a bit like goal-setting in general: the goodies should be within reach, if you stretch for them; neither too easy to get, nor hopelessly hard.

Edited at 2014-08-14 02:34 am (UTC)
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: August 14th, 2014 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I;m basically at this point trying to read everything in the Polychrome Heroes line, but my favorites are Danso and his family; Stan and Lawrence; and Steel and Moderato. The more you write about Danso, especially his developing relationship with Noah, the happier I'll be. :)

I've been meaning to ask: 1) do you mind other people roleplaying in your universe, and 2) if we end up writing fanfic in it (either individually or as the result of an IM-played RPG scene), do you want to see it, or would you rather not risk getting tripped up by it? Also, 3) is there any way other than prompting in the fishbowl that somebody can have a deliberate influence (commissions or whatever) on which topics/characters/threads you write next?

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 14th, 2014 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> I;m basically at this point trying to read everything in the Polychrome Heroes line, <<

Yay!

>> but my favorites are Danso and his family; Stan and Lawrence; and Steel and Moderato. <<

I have a lot of notes on Stan and Lawrence, some on Danso and family, and a few more ideas for Steel and Moderato. Today I'm working on the next Stan and Lawrence poem.

>> The more you write about Danso, especially his developing relationship with Noah, the happier I'll be. :) <<

Yep, that's a thread I want to develop.

>> I've been meaning to ask: 1) do you mind other people roleplaying in your universe, <<

I do not mind. I highly recommend Truth & Justice, which is what I used as a framework for building the characters, so it should play very conveniently with Terramagne. But if you already have a game system you like, it should be possible to adapt accordingly. I mashed Hallelaine into AD&D in highschool, because that was what we had.

>> and 2) if we end up writing fanfic in it (either individually or as the result of an IM-played RPG scene), do you want to see it, or would you rather not risk getting tripped up by it? <<

I would love to see that! I like sharing inspiration back and forth. My only rule is that, if people are using my stuff, I reserve the right to use things they base on my stuff, because there is a really high chance of overlap.

On which note it would be prudent to warn your other players that my worlds and characters can be very, hmm, forward so don't be surprised if exotic things happen.

Anyhow, if you post anything that's visible online, please let me know so I can link it in the "extras" section. Some things stay fanfic. Some get declared canon.
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: August 14th, 2014 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Cool; thanks! I am absolutely OK with your stealing concepts from anything we write and share with you -- I'd only ask you not to steal specific wording without asking our consent first. And that's mostly for the sake of my gaming partner, who might be slightly weirded out by having her words pop up someplace she didn't know about.

I'm trying to convince her to read, and then play in, the Polychrome Heroes universe. She and I have had a lot of good runs with superhero worlds already, so it's a good fit for our usual modes of thought (we don't really use a game system; it's more like a kids' game of make-believe). and I have wanted for a long time a world in which, although they might be bullied and discriminated against, supers aren't automatically regarded as nonhumans, enslaved, stripped of all civil rights, herded into camps, or stuff on that level. You handed me one, complete with a lot of specific powers I hadn't thought of and some of which I'd like to use (although whether I use them by playing your character or I use them by making up a new character with a closely related power will vary). So I'm hoping I can show my friend enough to interest her in the game.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 18th, 2014 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> Cool; thanks! I am absolutely OK with your stealing concepts from anything we write and share with you -- I'd only ask you not to steal specific wording without asking our consent first. And that's mostly for the sake of my gaming partner, who might be slightly weirded out by having her words pop up someplace she didn't know about. <<

I'll try to keep that in mind, thanks.

>> I'm trying to convince her to read, and then play in, the Polychrome Heroes universe. <<

That would be so awesome.

>> She and I have had a lot of good runs with superhero worlds already, so it's a good fit for our usual modes of thought (we don't really use a game system; it's more like a kids' game of make-believe). and I have wanted for a long time a world in which, although they might be bullied and discriminated against, supers aren't automatically regarded as nonhumans, enslaved, stripped of all civil rights, herded into camps, or stuff on that level. <<

Sooth. I do have a list of the best and worst countries for people with superpowers. A few of them do strip rights or kill soups ... but those are places like Somalia and Haiti that basically suck for everyone. Their bad examples help convince more civilized nations that such behavior is inadvisable, because not only is it immoral to chop people to bits with a machete, one of them might explode in your face. As for the best places, the Republic of the Maldives is still in a class of its own, but there are some other really nice countries too.

>> You handed me one, complete with a lot of specific powers I hadn't thought of and some of which I'd like to use (although whether I use them by playing your character or I use them by making up a new character with a closely related power will vary). <<

Yay! Feel free to play around with the powers, or even the characters. I think I've written out enough about my major characters that you should be able to run them as NPCs. Most of the character sheets are online. I like exploring really unusual powers, in addition to standard stuff like telepathy or super-strength that appear in every superverse. Then there's weird shit like the Mandible's flensing power. 0_o

>> So I'm hoping I can show my friend enough to interest her in the game. <<

I hope so too.

By the way, I finished another poem about Stalwart Stan & Antimatter if you want to hear about it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 14th, 2014 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> Also, 3) is there any way other than prompting in the fishbowl that somebody can have a deliberate influence (commissions or whatever) on which topics/characters/threads you write next? <<

Yes. Prompts, donations, and comments are all possible means of influence. I count which series or characters are most popular based on all that, and I give those more development time. I've got a ton of background info for Terramagne beyond what's published -- I really did sit down and make out the federal budget.

If you want something specific, you can commission me outside the fishbowls. DW user Dialecticdreamer has been doing that, some freestyle, some grabbing bingo squares and matching them to a setting or character. The bingo thing is working out great. So for instance I have a Hurt/Comfort card and a Birthday Bingo card that are mostly open. You could pick, say, "counseling" and pair it to Danso's family. "Adoption" is on the Birthday Bingo. I've got "courtship rituals" on Fanbingo that would suit Danso/Noah. Or you can ask for something completely original, especially if you want to riff off something I've already written, like "Why was Noah in a teen parents meeting?"

Length is kind of a challenge. Imagine that I have manual steering with my talent. It's decent but not great. I've been taking some $20 commissions and aiming for 667 words. Haven't gotten it perfect yet, I keep running over, but it's good practice and I've written several very satisfying stories. Poetry gets into epic range pretty fast if I start with a big idea, but it's hard to tell *in advance* what poems will get that big, which makes the 500-word-minimum bingo fests really pesky. Plus it's different when I'm storytelling like this compared to some other types of commissioned poetry I've done, like wedding poetry, where it's easy to pick a size and base the content on that by choosing symbolic flowers. Though of course, if you pick a form that has a specific number of lines, that will work; then the challenge is finding a topic that suits it really well. One thing I've considered is making the donation a deposit -- you'd get $20 worth of whatever I write, which might be the whole thing, or might be an excerpt with the rest available for microfunding.

Basically if you want to fund specific characters/storylines, you can. We'll talk over details and figure out something that will work. Crowdfunding is a work in progress, and sometimes I find new things to do with it, depending on what my current fans want.
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