Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "You Are the We of Me"

This poem fills a square on my second card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest. This fest encourages people to create and share material focused on what is variously called fluff, schmoop, gentle fiction, light reading, comfort reading, positive thinking, chicken soup for the soul, or anything else that offers a fun alternative to usual run of sex, violence, and angst of modern media. I'm hoping to attract some new readers for my writing.

The following poem belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis. It has the grit of low fantasy and the magic of high fantasy. This is the tale of how the Shaeth, the former God of Evil, becomes the God of Drunks. So far he has two followers, Trobby and Glenta, helping him along the way.  You can find the other poems in this series via the Serial Poetry page.

Fandom: Original (One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis)
Prompt: Wild Card (I becomes we)
Medium: Poetry
Summary: Shaeth flounders while trying to establish a new worship service. Trobby and Glenta add pieces to make it work.
Content Notes: Spirituality. Domestic. Little comforts. Making new traditions.

"You Are the We of Me"

Shaeth had lost a lot
when he abdicated his position
as the God of Evil.

Gods had ways of perceiving the world
through their followers, ways of discerning
what went on in their spheres of influence.
Shaeth could still see his former followers
but his inner vision had gone dim,
the world no more to him now than
banked coals seen through thick smoke.
Most of the time he had to rely on mortal perceptions.

He was just beginning to develop
some sense of things as observed
by the God of Drunks --
here, the tug of a tavern or a pub;
there, the malevolent burn of a bottle demon.

Trobby was Shaeth's first new follower
and would always be precious for that.
He was learning to become a priest,
fumbling his way through the simple spells
and the basics of meditation.
He had even stood up for Shaeth
in front of another god.

Glenta had arrived without being asked
and would always be precious for that.
She might, in time, become a paladin
for she had the sort of selfless devotion to a cause
that came from a paladin's soul, and to be sure
not even Shaeth wanted to pick a fight with her.
She helped Trobby deal with his drunkenness
and Shaeth learn to deal with everyday things.

Shaeth did not care that Trobby was a drunk
and sure to get into trouble several times a week;
he was familiar with trouble from his former work.
Shaeth did not care that Glenta was old
and no longer a lovely little thing;
he'd had enough of savage beauties.
Now he would hold on to these two followers
regardless of what tried to pry them apart.

It was vitally important
that there were two of them --
for having a single follower was like
peeking one eye out from under a blindfold,
while having two provided depth and perspective.

Shaeth wanted more, needed more,
craved the return of worship
that would give him greater power
and establish the vital cycle of energy
between himself and his followers.

Here there were no fine temples,
only the dingy little room where they stayed;
no altar, no fancy candles or incense,
no other accoutrements whatsoever.

Shaeth brought Trobby and Glenta together,
opened his mouth to begin the service and --
stood there awkwardly for a minute
before admitting glumly,
"I have no idea what to do next.
None of the liturgy from my former role seems relevant."

"Well," said Trobby, "you're the God of Drunks now.
Stands to reason we should have a reminder of that."
He fetched one of the empty beer bottles
that they had turned into skeletons for entertainment,
then positioned it to serve as a candleholder
for two sputtering tallow dips.

"We shall make our own traditions," Glenta said.
She took up her knitting and passed Trobby's to him.
"I declare that worshippers should do handiwork during services,
because comfort and occupation are important."

As the two of them spoke,
Shaeth began to sense things shifting --
and there, dimly glimmering,
came an awareness of bottle glass
and knitting needles and yarn --
tangent aspects attaching themselves
to his primary sphere of influence.

Seeing the world in this new way
was like trying to focus on the end of his nose:
it gave Shaeth a bit of a headache,
but it was infinitely preferable to the darkness
that swallowed forgotten gods.

Shaeth thought back to his first encounter with Trobby,
and what the young man had said drunks were in need of.
"I will provide a place to sleep," Shaeth said.
"I will work with Abredin the Herb Goddess
to develop a cure for hangovers.
I will help with getting drunk less often
and with looking for work.
These are things I can offer my followers."

"We will keep people company,
so nobody has to sleep in the woods
and drunks always have a place to go,"
Trobby said. "That's a good start."

"We will fight the bottle demons,"
Glenta added. "We will study them
and learn their weaknesses,
then teach people how to defeat them."

"Yes, we will," Shaeth agreed.
The words were not fancy,
the trappings were not fancy,
but they got the job done all the same.

Trobby and Glenta were paying attention to him,
focusing their devotion on him,
so that Shaeth managed to sweep up the clouds of power
and return a little to them tinged with his own energy.
It was like wading through a meadow of tall grass
instead of walking along a familiar path,
but the more they trod upon it
the sooner the path would form beneath their feet.

Shaeth's inner senses stretched and ached,
striving toward a strange new shape.
This is what it was to the be God of Drunks,
what it would be, what it could become --
just as Trobby was becoming a priest
and Glenta was becoming a paladin --
however difficult the journey.

They were three now,
and that mattered,
it mattered deeply
to what they were doing.

A god and two followers,
a sphere of influence and those who tended it,
these things came together like leaves
in an eddy of river water,
blending and bonding and becoming.

"You are the we of me,"
Shaeth said to his followers.
"A god without worshippers is nothing,
just a person with some power but no importance.
You are my connection to the world;
you help define what needs doing
and then you do it with me, for me.
You are my eyes and my hands and my heart."

"You are my shelter,"
Trobby said, leaning against Shaeth.
"You are my purpose,"
Glenta said, wrapping an arm around Shaeth.
"You are the we of us too,"
they both said to him.

The new religion they were making
hung between the three of them
like an unfinished scarf,
incomplete yet already beautiful,
a promise of warmth to come.

Shaeth realized,
with a start of joy,
that he was learning
how to create.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, event, fantasy, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing
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