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Poem: "Scotch Hobby" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Scotch Hobby"

This poem came out of the December 4, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from rix_scaedu, my_partner_doug, and kelkyag.  It has been selected in an audience poll as the freebie for the May 7, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl reaching the $200 threshold.  This poem belongs to The Steamsmith series.


Scotch Hobby


Maryam was walking in the park
with her cheetah Farasat on a leash
when she saw two boys plainly from Suffolk
trying to teach their new London friends
the game of Scotch Hobby.

The younger one clung
to his older brother's shoulders,
bony legs clasped around his neck
as the older one hopped heavily
from square to square.

The younger brother chanted
as they worked their way through the game:

One two, cobble a shoe
Three four, get the door
Five six, lay the bricks
Seven eight, shine the plate
Nine ten start again!

The London boys made a valiant attempt,
doubling up with each other
as the older brother began a new rhyme --

Tender, Tailor,
Lawyer, Sailor,
Blacksmith, Steamsmith,
Tinsmith, Greensmith,
Or mummy's grief:
A plain old thief!

-- only to fall down
halfway through the last line.

Farasat whuffed in the boys' direction
which made Maryam wonder if any of them
might have the makings of a steamsmith himself.

She scooped up the silver groat
they were using as a marker
and shook it briskly in her hand
until its energy unsettled.

Silver was tricksey, tipsy stuff --
easy to tilt off balance
and difficult to restore again.

"Since you two are so good at this already,
you should play with a handicap
to give your friends a fair chance,"
she said to the Suffolk brothers.
"See if you can settle yourself
well enough to land this in a square."

While the older brother
tried and failed and tried again
to toss the suddenly recalcitrant coin
where he wanted it to go,

Maryam borrowed the chalk
from the London boys
and drew a second diagram,
then gave them a copper penny
to use as a marker.

"Try playing parallel games for high score,"
she suggested, and they set to it eagerly.

By that time,
the younger of the Suffolk pair
had got the groat from his brother's grasp

and pitched to land, just barely,
in the corner of the closest square.

Farasat gave a satisfied whuff
and tugged on the leash,
eager to be off.
Maryam let him lead her away.

* * *

Notes:

Read about the history of hopscotch.  "Scotch Hobby" is an alternate name used in Suffolk.

Browse some hopscotch rhymes including "Tinker, Tailor."

A silver groat is a historic British coin.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: May 17th, 2013 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)

I was hoping this would be the one funded.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 17th, 2013 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I hope you like it.
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: May 17th, 2013 10:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!


Very much so!
From: technoshaman Date: May 17th, 2013 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Huh, I stumbled across the twist on the hopscotch rhyme *before* the original version, that is, LeCarre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy... not surprising being a Yank; the American version is entirely different.

Nice lesson in playing fair, and nice letting the magic be seamlessly part of the story but not essential to it. Makes it more about the *people*...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 18th, 2013 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Huh, I stumbled across the twist on the hopscotch rhyme *before* the original version<<

That's cool.

>> Nice lesson in playing fair, and nice letting the magic be seamlessly part of the story but not essential to it. Makes it more about the *people*... <<

I'm glad you liked this.
5 comments or Leave a comment