Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Settling"

Here is the second freebie of the session, courtesy of new prompter DW user Breezeshadow.  This poem belongs to the Schrodinger's Heroes project, which you can explore further on the menu page.  It's a crossover with His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, riffing on daemon as the animal shape of a person's soul.  This also fills the "Adulthood" square for my second Cottoncandy Bingo card.


For every person, there is a daemon,
two halves of a single soul
made manifest in flesh and dust.

Children and their daemons
are mercurial creatures, flickering
through dozens of changes a day.
As they grow, they begin
to know themselves,
to favor certain traits and shapes.

Then one day it happens --
a moment's epiphany
seals the shape of the soul --
child becomes adult and daemon settles.

Alex is a slender blonde woman
with an African gray parrot
perched on her shoulder.
Erithacu preens her hair and
occasionally corrects her equations.
They chatter constantly
and never break contact,
left and right hemispheres
of one gigantic brain.

Ash wears her straight black hair
bundled into a shaman's nest
to hold Da-he-tih-hi,
a magnificent hummingbird with
brilliant purple and green plumage.
They were born with the rare gift
of being able to fly far apart
without lessening their connection --
a medicine bird's trick, Ash says.
They tell legends of the southwest
in which Hummingbird brings the sun
or creates the world from nothing,
as they write impossible programs
in elegant ternary code.

Bailey is a charming man
with naturally tan skin and curly hair,
accompanied by a rhesus macaque.
Sellah gets into anything and everything,
her clever hands never still,
often busy with Bailey and his tools.

Chris wears his heart on his sleeve,
all floppy blond hair and big grin.
His golden retriever Faith is much the same,
full of boundless energy, eager to please.
They work and play well with others.
If the tail wags the dog sometimes,
well, they don't care.

Kay has curly black hair and fair skin
with aristocratic Iberian features.
Her hands are gentle with bandages,
ruthless with a rifle or grenade.
Her Guadelupe is a Mexican red wolf,
rangy and rough, able to run all day
and still fight after dark.
It's said that Guadelupe killed a man once --
not his daemon, but the man himself --
whether that's true or not,
Kay and Guadelupe never say.

Morgan watches the stars
and dances hula, showing off
her straight black hair and tinted skin.
Morgan calls herself a poi dog,
but her daemon isn't a dog.
Kalani is a Hawaiian Hoary bat or ʻŌpeʻapeʻa,
shaped like a taro leaf, like a canoe sail.
The night and the sky belong to them,
and no one can catch them when they fly.

Pat is handsome and gregarious,
a muscled milk chocolate statue of a man.
He keeps the kitchen and feeds the team,
managing public relations with a deft touch.
Few can deny him what he asks of them.
With him comes his bonobo Funanya,
so gregarious that she grooms
humans and daemons alike.
At first it seems perverse, but there is
just something about  Funanya
that makes it feel so good, so soothing.
They solve problems with sex.
This works.

Quinn is French Canadian and a transman,
and rarely wears his wild hair
the same color two weeks running.
A consultant with a good head for business,
his real talent is remaining unflappable
in the face of extreme strangeness.
Hilaire took so long to settle
that their parents despaired of it happening --
and then one day there was
Quinn with a Eurasian magpie
picking a lock for want of a forgotten key,
plumage a glorious dazzle of black and white
streaked with iridescent blue and green.

Tim the Tentacle Monster
comes from one of those strange dimensions
where people wear their souls on the inside,
but as soon as he crashed into the Teflon Teferact
his soul spilled out into a proper daemon --
who somehow did not follow the rules
about habitat and behavior because
there was a giant Pacific octopus
floating in midair with no apparent need of water.
Emer seemed unfazed by either transit or transformation.
Tim was not that calm, but saved Alex
from the collapsing building anyhow.
They fit themselves into the family of choice
as if a space had been waiting for them.

Schrodinger appears suddenly,
a sleek black housecat slipping between if  and is
to land in the Tef, perfectly balanced on all four paws.
He is what his eigenspace calls a totem:
the daemon not of an individual but a team,
forming only when a group of people unite.
Their soul walks not beside them but among them,
effortless connection of individuals to ideal.

This is what marks them as mature heroes,
and you can see it in their actions as they work,
hear it in the smooth purring of their soul,
feel it as the universe overruns obstacles with their aid.
They tease but do not taunt, feint but never fight --
they are always on the same side,
flesh and dust enmeshed with one purpose.
They are not like the childish upstarts,
all bluster and bravado, getting people hurt
when they should be getting the job done.

These are Schrodinger's Heroes,
and when they are on duty,
the fate of the manifold is in good paws.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, writing

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