Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Because I Can"

This poem came out of the March 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from siege.  It also fills the "luck" square on my card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest.  It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series P.I.E. which you can explore further via the Serial Poetry page.

Because I Can

There are things that Brenda always does,
just because she can, because that matters
in a way she can feel but not articulate any more clearly.

There is the technique of popping her wheelchair
up over a single low step or the edge of a curb,
the dogged determination with which she faces
the currently able-bodied individuals
who cannot imagine being otherwise.

There is the left-handed Charter Arms .38 Special snubby
that she uses because she can shoot with both hands
and she can afford to spend money on a spare gun.

Most people do not notice these things about Brenda,
but Darrel is an undercover cop and
it's his job to notice things.

So when Brenda leans over
to drop some change into a hat
for the third time in as many blocks,
Darrel asks, "Why do you always
give handouts to the handicapped beggars?"

Brenda thinks about how much harder it must be
to cope with a handicap on the street, with no job,
thinks of the blind man Gilbert and the armless woman Maud
and Andrew with his cropped legs in a battered wheelchair,
thinks about how many of them are veterans
(including Maud who had lost her arms
trying to throw a makeshift grenade out of a foxhole),
thinks about how society tends to discard people
for whom it has no current use.

"Because I can," she says,
thinking of Nate who makes more than she does
but begrudges parting with it when he doesn't have to,
thinking of Rick who won't volunteer his own time
but does occasionally donate materials to Habitat for Humanity.

"Guess I can too," Darrel says,
leaning down to make his own contribution,
and it makes Brenda smile just a little.

There are things Brenda can do
and things she can't do.
She can't do away with homelessness
but she can learn the names and the faces
of the homeless people who live nearby,
give them enough to buy a sandwich,
and speak against proposals for oppressive laws.

There are things anyone could do
and things that only a few can do.
Brenda knows herself for one of the latter.

There are the little soot-faced imps that eat luck,
the ones she runs down without hesitation
when she can catch them unawares,
crunching them like cockroaches beneath her wheels.

There are the fairies that tend the clover
that grows in the city parks, the ones
with the white chevrons on their four green wings,
who bring luck to the luckless
in exchange for a dab of honey or a pat of butter.
Sometimes Brenda lures them out onto the sidewalks
and shows them who needs their gifts the most.

For luck is a thing you can find
as well as a thing you can make;
luck is a thing you can lose
or have stolen and never know why.

Even though Brenda cannot control the whole of it
she is determined to do as much as she can.

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