Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Learning at the Wheel"

This poem came out of the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from aoife and kelkyag.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the Monster House series, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.  It will make more sense if you read "Stillpoint of the Spinning Wheel" first.


Learning at the Wheel


I studied twice as much as everyone else
because I was going to two schools at once --
the one in my neighborhood,
and the one at the center of the spacetime continuum
where my grandmother took me in secret,
folding time and space like a uniform
to change from one to the other.

Soon I discovered that while
plenty of people have written books
about saving the world, or worlds,
that isn't the sort of thing that really lends itself
to textbook cases.

Some things,
you just have to learn at the wheel.

So when everyone woke up
with nightmares on the same night,
all crowding into the kitchen in search of
bright light and hot chocolate,
I figured something was going on.

There, outside the windows,
were ghosts, dozens and dozens of them,
and our own little old lady ghost
standing at the back door with her arms crossed,
arguing with them silently.

"I don't mind the occasional new housemate,"
Mom said faintly, "but this is a bit much even for us."
I remembered the news stories about
leveling a section of old housing
and a small cemetery nearby.
Apparently that left a lot of ghosts homeless.

"We can't just leave them roaming the streets,"
I pointed out.  "They look miserable."
"I don't like it either," Mom said.
"What else could we do?"

I thought about that for a while,
watching the misty crowd through the windows.
"Maybe we could find places for them to stay,"
I mused.  "After all, we've got a ghost
and so does the local bookstore."

"I doubt the folks at We've Got It Covered
want any more ghosts, though," Mom said.
"There are other people," I said.
"Susie, Naomi, and Melinda all know about ghosts
but don't have any of their own."

"Some of those people really ought to be moving on,"
the bogeyman said to me.  "Look there, the faded ones
are either done with their last task or it's become impossible."
"I haven't actually had a class on that yet," I whispered.
"I can take care of those," he offered. 
"You deal with the bright-edged ones
still bound by some kind of destiny."

So we let them into the kitchen, one at a time,
sorting out who needed to go and who might stay,
while I tried to figure out places for the ones
who weren't finished and how to match them up.

It took weeks, but in the end,
our backyard stood empty again
and a number of houses were happily haunted.

I discovered that sometimes,
it's not a world that needs saving.
Sometimes, it's just about people
and being able to say,

"I sure made a difference to that  one."

Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, education, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, writing
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