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Poem: "Secondhand Sight" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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Poem: "Secondhand Sight"

This poem came out of the February 8, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from aldersprig and sponsored by janetmiles.  Series sponsor ladymondegreen. It is a sequel to "Eviction, Noticed," "Home Shriek Home," and "Sticky Fingers."

Note: I looked up the reference for guide dogs.  Most schools set the owner's minimum age at 16 (with parental permission), although there have been a few exceptions. 


Secondhand Sight


When our daughter was born blind,
I could have cried,
but my wife needed me to be strong.
Instead I waited until I got home,
and cried in the closet
where the monster
patted me awkwardly on the shoulder
and handed me fingertip towels
to dry my face.

When the baby began to crawl,
and then to walk,
we noticed something odd.
She never bumped into anything.
At first, of course,
we attributed it all to luck
and a babyproof house
and the little old lady ghost
yanking the coffee table out of the way
just in time
every time.

When our daughter grew old enough
to scamper around the park,
we figured out that there was
something more going on.
She always kept one hand
a little to the side, a little forward
as if holding onto something.
At first, of course,
we thought she was pretending
to play with a guide dog --
we had promised to get her one
as soon as she turned sixteen
and the school would accept her.
Then we realized that
she wasn't bumping into anything
in the park either.

When we asked her about it,
she just giggled and said,
"Can't you see the gremlin?"
Well.  No.
I guess she isn't the only person
in the family who has a blind spot.

When the neighborhood bullies found out
about her little handicap and made trouble,
we stood back and practiced plausible deniability
while the gremlins dismantled their bicycles
and the bogeyman dangled the boys
by their ankles from a window.
They stopped making trouble after that.
Our daughter smiled, and said nothing,
merely gave the gremlins the rest of her cookie and
pressed a chocolatey kiss to the bogeyman's cheek.

When our daughter turned six,
she ran down the stairs at top speed.
By then we had learned just how fast
a gremlin's stubby little legs could go --
and it was not that  fast.
"All right, what are you up to this time?"
I asked.

When she smiled a secret smile,
and said nothing,
I got up and walked slowly around her.
Then I saw it, hanging from her neck:
a glass eyeball glistening with mystic power,
its purple iris reacting to the kitchen light.
"That's a lovely necklace," I said.
"Where did you get it?"
"A friend gave it to me," she said.

When I grumbled a bit,
my wife looked at me calmly and said,
"Well, dear, we knew that she would 
start to make her own 'friends' some  day."

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

39 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: February 9th, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yesss! *Fistpump*

Um.

I'm a bit on the extremes this week. But yes yes love it! Love these characters.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 9th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

*hugs*

I am glad that my poetry inspires such enthusiasm, and my characters such affection.
siege From: siege Date: February 9th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like this.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 9th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

That makes me happy.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: February 9th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Saying that this young'un is going to have an interesting life doesn't even begin to cover it ...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 9th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

*laugh*

Oh so very true.

I think I was around 8 before I figured out that, when other people said things like "Well it didn't just grow legs and walk away!", this was an accurate description of the world as they experienced it. No wonder they flipped out when, in my presence or my house, it ceased to be a wholly reliable premise of reality.
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: February 9th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love these!

It also strikes me that they're the start of a story in poetry form. There are so many possibilities - a toddler amused by a leprechaun juggling on the corner of his crib, a treed kitten rescued and returned by the resident dryad, or the gnome who rearranges the neighbor's landscaping when he gets bored.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 9th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>I love these! <<

I'm happy to hear this.

>> It also strikes me that they're the start of a story in poetry form. There are so many possibilities - a toddler amused by a leprechaun juggling on the corner of his crib, a treed kitten rescued and returned by the resident dryad, or the gnome who rearranges the neighbor's landscaping when he gets bored.<<

Essentially, yes. Where ideas are flexible enough to be told in verse or prose, I am now leaning more towards verse. It writes faster and sells better for me. I wrote two series poems that sold this month, "Secondhand Sight" and "unfolding wings," both in active series. Another looped back to a story arc that has some poems and some fiction fragments; dunno if "This Sudden Sight" will sell or not.

With "series" poems, they're very organic things. They start with a prompt, become a single poem, and then catch the eye of my reader(s). Someone requests a sequel with a particular tangent ... and then sometimes another and another, till it winds up with some kind of storyline. I think this is pretty cool. It's not common so there's very little competition and a lot of fresh territory to work in.
akilika From: akilika Date: February 9th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this series. ^_^ This entry is no exception.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 9th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

It's fun to see where the series stuff goes, as different people relate a given cast or setting to the month's theme.
From: minor_architect Date: February 9th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I grumbled a bit,
my wife looked at me calmly and said,
"Well, dear, we knew that she would
start to make her own 'friends' some day."


Now that is one calm and collected mama. If she hadn't so much experience with the paranormal already, I'd say this was quite a feat. ;)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 9th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Looking at the four poems in this series so far, I'd say that both parents are well versed in the world of the bizarre. So they go back and forth between accepting weird things as perfectly normal, or being startled by them.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 10th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC) (Link)
This one makes me all kinds of happy.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2011 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad you like it.
eseme From: eseme Date: February 10th, 2011 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh YES!

I was very hopeful when I saw that prompt from aldersprig.

I had wondered how a child would grow up in that household. Questions answered, yet more questions. Like how does she manage at school? Would this get her in trouble (she's supposed to be blind, but she's acting like she can see)?

And this whole series has such a great, strong voice.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2011 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed this poem.

>>I had wondered how a child would grow up in that household. Questions answered, yet more questions. Like how does she manage at school? Would this get her in trouble (she's supposed to be blind, but she's acting like she can see)?<<

There are doubtless more tales to tell. A public school would likely prove challenging, if that's where she wound up.

>>And this whole series has such a great, strong voice.<<

Yay! People are welcome to keep offering prompts.
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: February 12th, 2011 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)
This is so much fun! I'm loving this series. But all of the poetry series you've been working on are neat--I don't think I could choose a favorite.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 12th, 2011 07:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>This is so much fun! I'm loving this series.<<

That's good to hear.

>>But all of the poetry series you've been working on are neat--I don't think I could choose a favorite.<<

Hee! So many choices! I like the fact that all the series are so different from each other. Each has its own setting. The characters have wildly different specialties. The only parallel I can think of is tone; I've got two (Monster House and now the psychic photographer) that run to wacky humor with a dark tint. But Monster House is comedic horror while the psychic photographer is comedic occult/espionage/SF.
ladymondegreen From: ladymondegreen Date: February 14th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
These are wonderful! I would like to fund one.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 14th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> These are wonderful! <<

Thank you!

>> I would like to fund one. <<

Well, you've got options...

1) Give me some extra money for some already posted poem(s), and I'll add you to the list of sponsors on the one(s) you wish to support. This lets me know a poem/series/topic is popular and encourages me to do more like that.

2) Mark the poetry fishbowls on your calendar (next is March 1: Things With Wings) and devise ways to connect that month's theme to your favorite series. Watch for the thumbnail description of the new poem to appear. Be prepared to pounce quickly: popular series poems often get funded before the fishbowl even ends (but see option #1).

3) Request something new outside of a fishbowl, based on whatever you'd most like to see developed. I'm open to this when my schedule permits, though I may not always have time. This series in particular just hatched out a spare, so I'd say its chances are good.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: August 5th, 2011 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Giggles*
kitrona From: kitrona Date: August 18th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, this gave me chills...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 18th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

This series is full of odd little twists like that.
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: October 4th, 2014 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Love love love it. But I confess I do not know where the necklace came from!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 4th, 2014 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Neither do the parents! It came from some mystical source, and presumably not one of the house residents.
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