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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "The Negotiation of Refuge"

This poem came out of the September 3, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It has been prompted and sponsored by janetmiles.  It also fills the "guardian" square in my 8-13-13 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis.

"The Negotiation of Refuge"

Some mornings there were
bodies on the doorstep.

Shaeth would wake up
and find them there --
or Trobby, Glenta, or Eshne would --
drunks dozing or passed out
or occasionally wide awake,
huddled on the stoop because
they had nowhere else to go.

The town guards
were not best pleased by this,
but they had learned that
there was no point arguing with Shaeth.

This is why there were rules
about divine sphere of influence
and the offering of sanctuary,
along with the complicated ways
in which those intersected with
more secular laws.

It was a way of keeping the balance,
of maintaining some sense of order
in regard to even the disorderly things
like evil and drunks, which could not
be controlled but might at least be channeled.

So the drunks were allowed to go
to the temple shack or the rented room
where god and clergy dwelled,
and the guards might glare or grumble
but would not stop them.

It helped keep people off the street,
for the temple would shelter them.
There was a cup of charity for coins
and a box for clothes and tools,
so that the temple could buy food
and pay the guards if there was trouble.

The guards might look askance
at the God of Drunks and his temple
and the ragged reeking followers
who came to him for sanctuary --

but they knew, they knew
that Shaeth was far better
at dealing with such challenges,
could sometimes win success
that guards and gaol could
never dream of achieving.

If the granting of sanctuary
could reduce the number of drunks
blocking carts in the street
or otherwise causing trouble,
then the guards would go along with it.

Someone would come out
each morning to check the step and
collect whomever might have collapsed on it.

If it was a little odd
for Trobby to wave at the guards
instead of being chased by them,
or for Shaeth to help keep order
instead of lighting it on fire,
well, surely it was no stranger
for them than for the guards

to see a couple of ne'er-do-wells
doing good of a morning.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
From: technoshaman Date: October 19th, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sometimes it *is* weird - even for the do-er - to be doing the right thing.... I think Shaeth and Trobby are getting the hang of this, though...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 19th, 2013 11:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Sometimes it *is* weird - even for the do-er - to be doing the right thing.... <<

Yes, that can be very disconcerting.

>> I think Shaeth and Trobby are getting the hang of this, though... <<

They are making progress, however slowly.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: January 11th, 2014 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like their development.

collect whomever might have collapsed on it.
→ whoever
because collect [SUBJECTrelativized might have collapsed on it]

Edited at 2014-01-11 09:03 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 28th, 2014 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)


English doesn't really have a bifocal pronoun. It's the object of "collect" (hence "whomever") but the subject of (whoever) "might have collapsed" simultaneously. So it can go either way.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: January 28th, 2014 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

OK. I was speaking from my high school English there.
5 comments or Leave a comment