Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Paper, Scissors, Stone"

This poem came out of the March 1, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from my_partner_doug and eseme.  They wanted to introduce origami and gargoyles to the Monster House.  To read previous poems in this series, visit the "Serial Poetry" page on my website.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.  So far sponsors include: ladymondegreen, aldersprig, janetmiles, laffingkat, eseme, general fund via poll

98 lines, Buy It Now = $49 
Amount donated = $43
Verses posted = 14 of 17

Amount remaining to fund fully = $6
Amount needed to fund next verse = $1.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $3

Paper, Scissors, Stone

I watched my daughter take to origami
like a fledgling crane takes to air.
Her fingers flew through the motions.

She only used her eye to read the instructions.
Otherwise she left the peering pendant
underneath her blouse and worked by feel,
her sensitive fingertips finding their way along the folds.
We pinned the paper shapes to the bulletin board
and beamed at her in pride.

Then she discovered kirigami
and the moment she set down
her sharp silver scissors, the kitchen table
was covered with flopping calico carp.
She squealed and leaped backwards,
knocking over her chair,
and ran out of the room.

The monster-in-the-closet
burst out of the closet, cast-iron skillet in hand,
ready to kill something.
He looked at the mess of paper and scales
covering the kitchen table and said,
"Uh ... what just happened?"

"I really have no idea," I said,
spreading my hands. "One minute
she was working on a craft project,
and the next, the paper carp came to life."

"Oh well," said the monster.
Then he hollered through the speaking tubes,
"Who wants fish sticks for dinner?"
and took orders from the troll in the basement,
and the bogeyman, and the monster-under-the-bed.
No need to ask the radiator dragon,
who eats just about anything.

When my daughter finally peeked around the corner,
I beckoned her over and asked, "Sweetie, tell me,
where did those scissors come from?"

"I don't really know," she said.
"I found them in a pile of fairy junk."

I sighed. "Well," I said,
"that explains a few things."
So we helped make dinner for the monsters,
and we buried the fish guts in the garden,
and by the time my wife came home
from the computer store,
there was nothing left to do but tell the story
and laugh over what had happened.
That's life in our house.

Our daughter went back to origami,
and there were no more incidents involving fish,
but then one day
she forgot about not using the silver scissors
and brought them out to trim a square,
and the paper gargoyle
came to stone instead of life.

Leathery wings clung close to the hunched back,
while the two legs ended in talons
and the face bore a beak like an owl.
A lion's tail curled around the body, its tuft
caught in mid-motion as if flicking against the ribs.

"He looks scary," said my daughter.
"He sure does," my wife agreed,
but she was smiling. "Honey,"
she said to me, "do you think he could
scare away the pigeons if we put him outside?"
"Well," I said, "people use inflatable owls
and he's certainly scarier than that."

So we heaved the thing up onto the roof
where it made quite a nice accent,
though it only scared away the pigeons
for a few days before they returned.
We just shrugged and went out
to buy our daughter a new pair of scissors,
plain steel ones, at the craft store.
Then we forgot about the gargoyle for a month,
which may have been a mistake.

One night our daughter came to our bedroom
and said, "You have to see this. It's so cool."
We went outside, and she pointed up,
and there in the moonlight we saw the gargoyle
creeping along the ridge of the roof,
bat-like wings spread wide for balance,
eating the pigeons where they roosted.
We agreed that it was indeed cool,
and we all stood there watching,
like backyard naturalists,
while the gargoyle went about its business.

Our daughter even pulled out
a sketchbook with a little silver pen,
and sketched the gargoyle hunched over its prey.

Suddenly, there were two gargoyles on the roof,
eyeing each other warily over the two dead pigeons.
They backed away, hissing and bobbing,
their grey wings mantled like angry owls,
then crouched on the opposite corners
to wait for the coming of dawn.

"Let me guess," I said.
"The sketchbook and pen
came from the same fairy nest."
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, writing

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