Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Hrafn's Nest"

This poem came out of the September 4, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from LiveJournal user siege. It also fills the "Four seasons (one or all)" square on my first card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest. You can read other poems in the series Hart's Farm by visiting the Serial Poetry page for links.

This poem is posted here as the participation perk for Winterfaire 2012. All of these activities will reveal a new verse each time someone does them:
* link to this Winterfaire page to boost the signal
* comment posting a Booth of your wares/services in the Winterfaire
* buy something from a vendor listed in the Winterfaire
* host a similar holiday market in your own blog or other venue
Notifications from LJ and DW are being patchy, so please TELL ME what you're doing in order to get credit for it

There are 16 of 19 verses posted. Participants so far include: ladysisyphus, baaing_tree, pseudonymeter, alycewilson, minor_architect, janetmiles[personal profile] rowangolightly[personal profile] itsamellama[personal profile] moonwolf[personal profile] kyleri[personal profile] ellenmillion 

"Hrafn's Nest"

"How do you keep track of it all?"
Auduna asked, looking around Hrafn's study.
She had come in to drape the freshly washed afghan
over the back of the couch, only to be distracted
by the walls lined with books.

Hrafn's dark head lifted from his ledger
and his pen stopped its steady scratching.
"Keep track of what?" he said mildly.

Auduna flapped her hands in the air
and replied, "Everything!
You have dozens of people living on the farm,
in all these different buildings,
people who fall in love and have babies -- or not! --
and somehow manage to get all the work done.
Crops in the fields, animals in the barns,
cooking and cleaning and mending,
and everyone seems to have some kind of art."

Hrafn gave a soft caw of laughter
and said, "That's what the record books are for.
Come here.  Let me show you."  
He beckoned to her with one elegant hand.

Auduna went over to the fine beechwood desk, 
covered with papers and books, a bottle of India ink,
glass paperweights, a letter opener, a pen knife,
and cups that held fountain pens and a few quills.

"This is the supply ledger," Hrafn said,
pointing out the sections for food and fuel,
cloth and toiletries and tools, all the things
they made, traded, bought or sold.

He marked the place with a ribbon,
then closed the black book and reached for another,
this one a cheerful pink like cherry blossoms in spring.
"Here are the homes," Hrafn said,
and showed her the listing of all the buildings
where people might stay and how many each held.
She found the one that she shared
with Frida and Karin and their children.

There was a studbook with a green cover,
showing the bloodlines of the farm's horses,
and presumably more such books for other livestock.
Auduna marveled at the magnificent watercolor paintings
of the stallions and some of the most important mares.

Another green book held records of the fields,
the careful order of crop rotation,
notes about fertilizer and pests and yields.
Calendar pages indicated days of sun and rain,
along with dates for the first and last frosts.

Auduna leafed through slowly, following the farm
from the early sowing season in spring
through the summer vegetables coming from the garden
and the heavy harvest of fruits and grains in the fall,
then the fallow months of winter when little was done.
Names and times showed how people found work to do.

Last of all Hrafn handed Auduna
a brown book embossed with gold letters.
"Hartlines,"  she read.  "I've seen Ola with this."
"It holds the names of the people who live here,"
Hrafn said.  "Ola and I both consult it."

Auduna looked around the study,
suddenly seeing it in a new light
as the ranks of books leaped out at her,
shelves full of black and brown and green
and so many other colors as well.

In the center of it all sat Hrafn,
his dark eyes gleaming, merry and wise
as the bird for which he was named.

"How far back do the records go?" 
Auduna wondered aloud.

Hrafn led her to a shuttered frame on one wall,
which he opened to reveal not a window
but a fragment of frayed parchment behind glass.
Auduna peered at it but could make out very little
except for the number 1050.
"All the way back," Hrafn said softly.
"This is part of the original grant for the farm."

Auduna shivered a little,
thinking of the farm and the family
and the endlessly flittering years.

"Of course, we don't have much from the early times,"
Hrafn said.  "Most of what you see is much more recent.
For a while, people kept a family Bible,
then an expense ledger and such.
Once we started making our own books,
and people diversified into more crafts,
we expanded the kinds of records we wrote down.
Everybody finds something useful and beautiful to do,
to pass the time and keep the farm going."

There were threads of silver in the dark wings of his hair.
He'd spent much of his life here, Auduna realized,
tracking all the comings and goings on the farm
through the slow wheeling of spring, summer, fall, winter.
She had grown used to seeing Hrafn, and often Solvig with him,
spreading out paperwork on a table in the common house
or making meticulous notes in one of the workshops.
It seemed more important,  somehow,
here in his own private nest.

"You are amazing," Auduna declared
as she kissed him on the cheek.
"I'm sure we'd all be completely lost without you."
Then she headed back to her work in the laundry room.
Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, writing

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