Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Gifts of Simplicity"

This poem came out of the November 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from rowyn and rix_scaedu.  It was selected in an audience poll to be sponsored from the general fund.  This poem belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.

Gifts of Simplicity

Not long after Shaeth
brought home a still-dazed Trobby
limp from the aftereffects of overindulgence,
salvation arrived in a particularly unexpected package.

A withered old woman
let herself into their room,
her arms full of an odd-looking afghan
in a calliope of clashing colors.
She draped it over Trobby's shoulders
and said to Shaeth,
"You need to keep him warm
and give him a sense of comfort."

"What in the world would I know about that?"
Shaeth said acidly, glaring at her.
"Nothing, I imagine," said the old woman,
"which is why I've decided to help."

"Who are  you?" Shaeth demanded.
"My name is Glenta," she said.
"I'm a grandmother.
You look like you could use one."

Shaeth had no idea what grandmothers were for --
he couldn't recall meeting any in his former occupation --
but he had to admit that Trobby looked
just a bit less miserable than before.
"Very well," the god said,
wondering what he was getting himself into.

"Excellent," said Glenta.  "Peel these potatoes."
She opened a basket that Shaeth hadn't seen
under the afghan, then handed him
several potatoes and a knife.

Shaeth looked at the round little roots.
"I've never peeled anything but a person,"
he confessed.  "Where do I start?"
So Glenta gave him a lesson
on how to peel vegetables,
and then a lesson on how to cook stew,
and then an order to go find a bit of beef.

When he came back with the stew meat,
Shaeth found Glenta sitting on the bed
beside Trobby, teaching him how to knit.
"You'll want to keep his hands busy too,"
she said to Shaeth, as the slim needles
clicked and clacked their way through the yarn.

Then she put the beef into the waiting stew
and dragged Shaeth over to the hearth.
She showed him how to make cookie dough
and bake it in a little lidded skillet covered in coals.
Shaeth hadn't even known you could  make cookies
in a skillet, let alone how to go about doing it.

In one afternoon he'd learned more about cooking
than he had in a thousand years.
Their little room smelled savory and sweet,
and Trobby had half a smile on his face.
"Gifts of simplicity can make all the difference,"
she said to them.

Clearly, Shaeth realized,
grandmothers were powerful creatures.

When the stew was done,
Glenta taught them the magic words
"Please" and "Thank you."
Shaeth argued that they weren't really magic --
for he knew a great deal about magical theory --
but Glenta pointed out that spells were all about
changing things and those words could change
how people felt about you and what they did.
So Shaeth had to concede the point after all.

After they had tucked Trobby into bed,
Shaeth found himself wondering about Glenta.
"Why have you come here?" he asked.

Glenta picked up her knitting,
twisting and tucking the yarn
between her lean old fingers.
"I had a son once," she said,
"whose soul was devoured
by a poppy demon."

"I am sorry for your loss," Shaeth said,
and somewhat to his surprise,
he really was.

Knit and purl, tug and turn.
"I heard that you have become
the God of Drunks, and I figure that
fighting one demon in a bottle
is as good as another," Glenta said.

"You are welcome to fight by my side,"
Shaeth said.  "Bottle demons are devious.
Thus far, my research has turned up
precious little about them."

"Oh, I know about bottle demons,"
Glenta said in a low voice.
"We will put our heads together,
and then they will be sorry."
Shaeth already knew her well enough
to feel fairly confident about that.

Glenta sat by the hearth with her knitting,
the needles winking and flickering in her hands,
her hair gleaming white-gold in the firelight
and her smile somehow ruthless and kind at once.
She sat there, quiet and calm, glinting
like a beacon in and against the dark.

Shaeth was privately quite glad
that he had met her after 
quitting his former occupation.

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