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Poem: "Gravestone Games" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Gravestone Games"

This poem came out of the December 4, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from catsittingstill.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This is a poem of the Whispering Sands desert, one of my established settings.

Gravestone Games

There are games only played by elves,
or humans who live alongside them,
games drawn out of a lifespan
long enough to need practice
for what comes after.

These are the gravestone games
that grownups play to explore
what happens in old age
and the stage after life.

There is washing and dressing
and feeding and cuddling.
These things are familiar
from playing with dolls and raising babies,
but they are different too.

For the one playing elder
it is a chance to relax and be loved,
to be taken care of and not be responsible
for remembering or doing anything just now.
For the one playing caregiver
it is a chance to express affection
with hands and devotion and little details,
not just words as slender as wind.

There are songs that go with the games,
soft as lullabies, for a sleep without waking.

Ride on a white horse
bedecked with pear blossoms,
lie down in the soft sand between rosebushes,
set the stone in its place

and dare to say
some of the things
that are only said after death.

In this instant
they may be true
but they are not quite real:

it is still only a game.

When the time comes,
at the end of days, the players
are prepared to make the change.

The songs are fond and familiar,
the final sleep feels good after so long a waking,
the Bone Horse moves with a grace beyond angels
passing through the Pear Gate between life and afterlife,

and the stones, too,
remember all that has been said
before them, although they remain silent as the dead.

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11 comments or Leave a comment
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: December 8th, 2012 01:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Sweet, but kind of creepy (for me, not for their culture).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2012 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)


It's creepy for me too. Ageplay, which this is very closely related to, tends to weird me out. But I can philosophically understand what kinds of things other people find appealing about such activities. YKIOK,IJNMK.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: December 8th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
This is beautiful. I'm going to need to look for more set in this universe.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> This is beautiful. <<

I'm glad you like it.

>> I'm going to need to look for more set in this universe. <<

Unfortunately you'll have to hunt through the whole haystack. I don't have the "by setting" stuff organized nearly as much as stuff that focuses on the same characters. Try the "Waterjewel" tag though, several of the poems are listed there.
siege From: siege Date: December 8th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Oh, this is Waterjewel! For some reason, this poem had the sort of resonance that suggested the Torn World, even though fae were mentioned. Like, if you toned down some of the ideas a little, this is the sort of thing children in cemetaries might get up to.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

It could work in various different settings, yes. The Waterjewel anchors are fairly subtle.
From: technoshaman Date: December 9th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
very.. satisfying, esp. to my deeper self.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 10th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.
From: ext_2315078 Date: December 13th, 2013 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)
This is beautiful. In a strange way.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 13th, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Yes, and that's typical of Waterjewel. If you tell one of them "That's crazy," the most likely response is "Now I feel right at home." They get terrific results with their culture, but it contains a great many things that make outsiders go "Whah?"
From: ext_2315078 Date: December 13th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I like that!
11 comments or Leave a comment