Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "All That Glitters"

This poem comes from the July 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It began with a prompt from janetmiles about how those who have the gold, make the rules.  From laffingkat and haikujaguar came the importance of small, everyday magical items.  eseme threw in the idea of a character who isn't a hero, just an ordinary employee.  The poem was sponsored by janetmiles.

Now it happens that I've had an idea simmering away in the back of mind for some time, about a fantasy setting with lots of little nationalities, each with a different form of government.  I'd just written "Down the Drain" which is set in a plutocracy, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to develop that society further.  The Plutocracy of Aurea considers wealth an indicator of competence and wit, with the interesting adjunct of investing in practical magics to provide a foundation for advanced social development and leisure.  They run to elemental magic, with different proportions of the elements manifesting in different populations.  I like  this setting.  It is a long, long way from the Kingdom of McFantasyLand.

All That Glitters

Ritaine felt proud of her position.
She held the most important job in the world:
she was an Accountant.
Without them to manage the flow of money,
nobody else could do any work at all.

Ritaine loved her office.
She gave thanks every day
that she lived in the Plutocracy of Aurea,
where people had the gods-given sense
to invest in everyday magics and not just frills.
So she opened her windows to breezes and sunbeams,
screened against insects by a cunning little charm.
Her quill would chirp at her if she made an error
in calculation or spelling, although to be fair,
the thing counted far better than it spelled.
A set of nine square brushes scurried around the floor,
alone or in groups, keeping it meticulously clean.
She had a magic rope to lift heavy file cabinets,
and an enchanted lantern to light the room after nightfall.
She couldn't imagine trying to do all this without them.

Ritaine enjoyed her work.
She handled a dozen accounts,
carefully tallying income and expenses
and all the other little steps
that made the endless dance of wealth
such a wonder to behold.
When she finished each update,
she sent off the news with a flick of Air magic,
quick as you please, alerting all the other Accountants.
It only made sense  that the people
who amassed the most money would make the rules.
Who else knew more about how the world worked?

Oh, the job had its drawbacks.
Now and again, some rival would strike out
and curse her with dyscalculia,
so that she had to take off a day or two
until her numeric sense recovered.
She knew, too, that there were government offices
higher and brighter and glittering with more gold than hers;
but she liked  working where she was.

Ritaine touched reverent fingertips
to the bullion buttons of her uniform,
counting off the cornerstones of her life:
one, two, three, four, five.
The numbers in their perfect promenade
were power enough for her.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, economics, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, writing
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