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Poem: "An Impetuous Presence" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "An Impetuous Presence"
This poem was prompted by the_vulture and siege.  It also fills the #10 Impetuous slot in the Rainbowfic Sunlight list.  This poem belongs to the series Path of the Paladins.  If you're not already familiar with Johan's adventures, back up to read "Stained," "Will Not," "The Garden of Shards," "Storm Wrack," "Uneasy Things," and "Fraying Bonds" first.  Otherwise this episode won't make nearly as much sense.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: the_vulture, rix_scaedu, janetmiles, general fund

129 lines, Buy It Now = $59.50
Amount donated = $25
Verses posted = 19 of 25

Amount remaining to fund fully = $14.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2.50

An Impetuous Presence

Johan found himself surrounded
by children, very much not
his usual state or nature.

They made an impetuous presence,
wild and quick though not careless,
their fluting voices a background noise
as ubiquitous as birdsong in a forest.

Althey's huge eyes and his soft
"How are you?" greeting
always reminded Johan of an owl.
The boy was gentle and patient
about tending the wounds
that Johan had acquired
defending their little band.
He honestly tried not to
make a nuisance of himself

The problem was that
it was impossible to hide anything.
The children got into and around
and over everything.

If Johan winced on the way to the privy
because the slice along his hip still hurt,
someone was there to duck under his arm
before he could take another step.

If the deep gouge in this shoulder
twinged during a meal,
the girls twittered over whose turn
it was to feed him by hand.

Althey was the worst, though,
Althey with his clear owl-eyes
and his tender healer's fingers,
made all the more perceptive
by the lucent jewel that Gailah
had dropped into his innocent grasp.

When Johan woke gasping in the night,
choking on terror from the dreams
of what he had seen and had done,
Althey was there with a warm hand
on his forehead to soothe him back to sleep.

When Johan woke weeping in the night,
wracked with memories of his goddess,
missing her all the more after
a fleeting glimpse in this dream or that one,
Althey was there with a broadening shoulder
for him to cry on for as long as it took.

It was that, more than anything,
which began to revive Johan's faith,
a process as insidious and painful
as life returning to a numbed arm
that had been slept on for too long.

Althey learned, though Johan
did not try to teach him anything.
It was just there, this thing,
growing between them like
the slow light of an autumn sunrise.

One morning Johan nicked his finger
peeling potatoes for the soup.
Althey closed an impetuous hand over it,
and when he let go, the small cut
was gone as if it had never been.
"That's new," Althey murmured,
but made no more fuss over it than that.

Johan was learning from Althey, too,
although he never meant it.
One evening Althey caught him
fingering the fallen star
set into the hilt of his sword,
still as dark as the day he regained it.

"Blow on it," Althey said.
"What?" Johan said, startled.

"It's like a coal, in the hearth?"
Althey said. "You have to blow
a little to make it light up."
He cupped his hands around
his own star-gem and breathed
over the clear sphere of it.
Light blossomed in his cupped hands.

This wasn't how Johan
had learned to do it before,
but he did it anyway,
and it worked anyway.

For the first time in decades
he held the light of Gailah in his palms,
and then he was crying, quite openly,
so someone had to bring him a handkerchief,
and oh,  he didn't care.

It was like that, all the time,
being pried out of his shell
one piece after another.
It never stopped hurting,
never stopped feeling as if
he was going about naked
with no skin over the raw meat of him,
but Johan began to grow used to it.

If he'd lost his inner armor,
well, he'd gotten back
some things he thought
were lost forevermore.
He'd make that trade,
nevermind the pain of it.

By the time Johan healed enough
to travel, it was early winter.
"Where are we going?"
Althey asked him,
quite out of the blue.

"We?" Johan said, because
he hadn't thought of that at all,
but of course it would be we  now
since Althey was his novice and
they couldn't leave the others behind.

Johan wracked his mind for ideas
and recalled what Shahana and Ari
had said about Ari's village --
they'd lost a lot of people there,
but Ari's brother still held onto
the family farm. It might do.

"I know of a village," Johan said.
"They may have room there
for a few more people."

Rakel gathered the little ones
around her, though really,
she wasn't all that much older.
"What about you and Althey?"
she asked, with a glance
at the twin stars they held.
This time the children were mindful
instead of impetuous.

"Althey and I," said Johan,
"have a longer path ahead of us."

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Current Mood: busy busy

12 comments or Leave a comment
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: April 17th, 2013 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)
>>When Johan woke gasping in the night,
choking on terror from the dreams
of what he had seen and had done,
Althey was there with a warm hand
on his forehead to soothe him back to sleep.<<

This wouldn't be the first time that the question "Who's saving who?" has been raised. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 17th, 2013 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)


I believe the answer to that is "yes." They're good for each other, these two, and this poem is very much about that.
siege From: siege Date: April 17th, 2013 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love can truly be the most impetuous presence, especially compassionate agape love.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 17th, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC) (Link)


That's very true. This series is rich in various types of nonsexual love. It inspires people to do wild crazy things to make the world a better place.
From: technoshaman Date: April 23rd, 2013 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

*smiles* *hugs* Satisfying... deeper than I can English... but yet... I know you grok anyway.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 23rd, 2013 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...


"Thou art God, I am God, all that groks is God."
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: April 18th, 2013 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooh. *Nice* new verses. I hope someone else picks up from here; I want to see how this one comes out.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 18th, 2013 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)


I'm glad you like the developing story here.

We've got some money in the general fund, so it's possible this poem will get finished in the soon future.
eseme From: eseme Date: May 2nd, 2013 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is wonderful, and I'd love to see them arrive in the village, bringing children and hope. I really like this series.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you're enjoying this.
fyreharper From: fyreharper Date: January 14th, 2014 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Ooh, I like Althey. And it'll be interesting to see this novice-ing (etc) from another perspective!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 14th, 2014 06:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Ooh, I like Althey. <<

I'm delighted to hear that.

>> And it'll be interesting to see this novice-ing (etc) from another perspective! <<

It's almost the opposite of Shahana and Ari, in a way, because Johan is so wrecked and reluctant, while Althey is still determined to fix this broken world. So a lot of the motivation comes from Althey, with Johan hurrying along behind and trying to remember how this 'teaching' thing is supposed to work.
12 comments or Leave a comment