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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "False Prophets"

This poem was inspired by discussion with my_partner_doug.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  It belongs to the series Fledgling Grace.


False Prophets


After the Fledging,
everyone had questions
and everyone wanted answers.

There was no shortage of those
purporting to have answers,
except for God,

Who was notably silent on the matter.

Early on, it was easy,
when few people had wings
and not many knew what they were like.

In Alabama, a fiery redhead named Zeke
quoted from 1 Corinthians 15:52,
For the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised imperishable,
and we shall be changed
. (1)

He insisted that the end times were at hand,
and certainly people were being changed,
so for months followers thronged around him.

But the dead did not rise,
and nobody heard any trumpets,
so eventually the crowds went away again.

In Africa, a man named Abasi
fabricated a pair of wings
and preached from a stand
so that people could not see him closely.

He preached against the queers
and the education of women
and white men who came for diamonds and oil
and how sinners were ruining the whole world.

People liked that sort of thing,
so for weeks he drew a considerable crowd
and the wealth that went with it.

Then one day he stumbled
stepping down from the stand,
and his fake wings fell off.
His followers left, never to return.

Later on, people began to learn
what real wings felt like,
the little differences between the types --
it was something that few could describe,
slimmer than a hint, more subtle than a hunch,
yet reliable all the same.

It was no more than the faintest tremble in grace,
but when the charlatans began to use dye
to mimic the appearance of more prestigious wings,
it didn't take months or weeks anymore --
it took minutes.

Someone put up a sign at church:
1 John 4:1,  it said,
Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
for many false prophets have gone out into the world
. (2)

Slowly, people were learning
to perceive what could not quite be seen.

* * *

Notes:

1) 1 Corinthians 15:52
English Standard Version (ESV)
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

2) 1 John 4:1
English Standard Version (ESV)
Test the Spirits
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
laylalawlor From: laylalawlor Date: March 19th, 2013 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
slimmer than a hint, more subtle than a hunch

Oh, that is a lovely line. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 19th, 2013 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad that worked for you. I try hard to find ways of describing things outside the ordinary, the physical, the ones that readers may have experienced personally. So much of what happens in my writing is really far-out stuff. It's a challenge to convey that in terms that are both clear and entertaining.
siege From: siege Date: March 19th, 2013 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

There is something about the motion of a person with wings which causes them to feel different when perceived by others. The wings they bear are part of them, rather than attached to them. It's sort of like how someone can tell the difference between computer generated and real-world things, even the most subtle: there is an angularity, a hardness to the textures, a stiffness of movement that takes enormous processing power and multiple-genius skill to eliminate when animating a living thing. We're wired for the uncanny valley, so learning to use it to our advantage touches the liminal, where such senses come from in the first place.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I've had people notice some of my not-currently-manifest body parts without being told. Sometimes I can spot Otherkin the same way. It's surprising how much things like that influence body language and subtle energy.

And then you take something like manufactured wings -- most people wear them as a costume. Some wear them as prosthetics. It's a very different presentation.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: March 20th, 2013 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I am reminded of the Spider Robinson story about the truth serum [spoiler]-- the protagonists dosed everybody at a major interfaith conference, and suddenly all the Religious Leaders were left standing alone. Except for one, the one who hadn't been preaching, hadn't been evangelizing, had just been hanging out quietly with his students.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Some people just aren't ready for some knowledge.

I am, however, deeply flattered by the comparison to Spider Robinson.
6 comments or Leave a comment