Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Igor's Creature"

This poem came from the April 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from xjenavivex , thesilentpoet , and aldersprig .  It was selected in a generally sponsored poll.  In order for this to make maximum sense, you should be familiar with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  It also helps to know some of the (many and contradictory) feminist interpretations of the story.  Sometimes, mad science isn't all about the scientist after all.

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. (To give this a good start, I rounded up instead of down, posting the first two verses instead of just one.  The original $5 donation thus covers the 4-line first verse and 6 lines of the 10-line second verse.  The next $2 will cover the end of verse 2, then it's $4 more to reveal verse 3.)

So far donors include: general fund, Shirley Barrette, Anthony Barrette

110 lines, Buy It Now = $55
Amount donated = $15.50
Verses posted = 4 of 15

Amount remaining to fund fully = $39.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $4
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $6.50

Igor's Creature

Call him that,
because that's what he was:
Igor's, not Frankenstein's
and a creature, not a monster.

Igor was the one who assembled the lab equipment,
nut by bolt, buying and begging and scrounging the parts,
sweating on his back on the scaffold under the ceiling
with a candle clenched in his mouth
and a screwdriver twisting into the very small screws.
It was not Igor's fault that Victor Frankenstein
had gone out drinking with several other gentlemen,
and neither read nor listened to the instructions
for operating the equipment, being convinced
that he already knew what he was doing.

Igor was the one who went out to the graveyards
and dug through the mud to find fresh bodies,
carefully selecting the parts, just the right parts,
the broad strong hands and the square shoulders
and the good heart.

It was not Igor's fault that Victor Frankenstein,
being a man and a doctor and a rich one to boot
hadn't enough sewing skill to replace a lost button.

So when things went inevitably, horribly wrong
Igor was the one who cleaned up the mess.
He swept up the broken glass in the laboratory
and repaired what equipment he could.
He put Victor Frankenstein to bed with a warm blanket,
a cup of lemon tea with honey for his crumpled throat
(plus enough brandy in it to keep him in bed and out of trouble)
and a magazine of science and another of loose women.
Then he went out in search of the poor confused creature.

Igor found the creature sitting beside a lake, crying.
"It's all right," said Igor, patting the creature's back.
"Sometimes he makes me want to strangle him too."
The creature leaned his heavy head against Igor's shoulder
and bawled like a lost calf.  Igor patted him and rocked him
and wondered what the hell Victor Frankenstein had been
thinking, anyway -- but of course the answer to that was:
he hadn't been thinking, at all.

It was all too easy for a man, a wealthy man,
a society man, respected by his peers
and belonging to a prestigious profession,
to go galloping off after whatever idea
happened to flit through his head
because he was convinced that it would work
just from the fact that he wanted it to.
A man like Victor Frankenstein had little if any
counterbalance in the way of people telling him
NO when that's what he needed to hear,
and not much more of telling himself,
Well that wasn't such a good idea, old chap!
or even Perhaps I hadn't ought to do this after all.

Igor had a lifetime of such experiences
and absolutely no trouble in spotting a new one
as soon as it appeared on the horizon.
What Igor did not have was a banker's fortune,
which meant that he needed a job,
which meant that he put up with Victor Frankenstein
and kept his mouth shut so he could keep his job.
Now that it had all come crashing down around his ears,
and people had gotten hurt despite Igor's best efforts,
he was determined to put things right as best he could.

"Come on," he said, tugging the creature's hand.
"We may as well start walking."  So they walked
out of the town that knew Victor Frankenstein.
They begged for clothes and food, and when they could,
they did a little work on the side.  Slowly,
the creature learned to speak a few words,
but mostly they communicated by signs.
Before long, Igor's creature
became Igor's friend
so it hadn't turned out too badly after all,
although it would have been nice if the good doctor
had somehow learned a lesson from the whole mess.

Eventually they found work in another town,
with Igor minding a lab for another absent-minded scientist
and Igor's creature cleaning the floors and walkways
with the meticulous care that Igor had taught him.
Igor didn't much care for people who liked to play God,
but he'd take their money, then he'd go home with his friend
and emulate the kind of God he wanted to believe in:

the kind of God who took care of the poor,
the reviled, the broken, the downtrodden;
the kind of God who believed in loving your neighbor
even if he was an over-educated ass;
the kind of God who would put himself out
to heal a stranger's pain and sorrow --

not the God of scientists, all gleaming
steel and gold and jewels;
but the God of carpenters, who'd understand
what it meant to scrunch on a dusty scaffold
with a candle in your mouth so you could see to drive screws
because your work was important to you.

That kind of God, yes, Igor was willing to play
and to pray to and to tell his friend about.

In their new town they even
made a few new friends.
Nobody from their old town
ever managed to find them,
for Igor had outwitted the good doctor
and Igor's creature had proved more capable
than anyone else would have suspected,
and they hid themselves just fine where no one would look.
So they settled into a quiet life,
enjoying the company of their new friends,

and the nice bluestocking girl
who bought them coffee
and listened to their story
was kind enough to grin at their conspiracy

and lie about the ending.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, gender studies, horror, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, writing

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