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Poem: "What We Reap" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "What We Reap"

This poem came out of the November 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user Perfectworry.  It also fills the "face to face" square in my 10-6-13 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family, which you can find via the Serial Poetry page.

What We Reap

In the village below,
the church bells were ringing
the end of the harvest.

Up the little lane
came the horse and cart
carrying the last sheaves of grain.
Garlands of flowers and colorful ribbons
bedecked the sides of the wagon.
The horse kept trying
to eat the wreath around his neck.

"The villagers seem happy,"
Igor observed.

"It's been a good harvest,"
Victor said, bouncing their son on his hip.
Adam gurgled and sucked his fist.
"I've always loved this season."

"Why?" Igor wondered.

"What we sow in spring
determines what we reap in fall,"
Victor explained.

"Assuming it doesn't hail
and wipe out the crop,"
Igor said.

"There's always that,"
Victor said, turning away
from the window, his cheer fading.

Igor slumped a little,
realizing that he'd hit a nerve
without meaning to.
"We could go down to the village
and enjoy the festival," he said.

"I can't dance," Victor said.
"I never liked the women's dances
and wasn't allowed to learn the men's moves."

Igor shrugged.  "So what?
They're improvisational dances
with a lot of body music.
You're good at making things up."

"People would laugh at me,
hopping about like a stripling
and tripping over my own feet,"
Victor said.

"I won't laugh, and I won't let you trip,"
Igor said stoutly.  "I bought you a hat."

"What?" Victor said,
turning to look at him.

Igor held it out, a dapper black hat
with bright ribbons fluttering from the back.
"I saw you eyeing these in the shop.
I thought you should have a proper hat
to wear on special occasions."

"Oh," Victor said softly,
charmed as always
by Igor's support of his manhood.

"Let's trade," said Igor,
picking up the baby
as he handed Victor the hat.

Victor tried it on at once,
admiring himself in the mirror,
while Igor laid Adam on a floor cushion.
Adam promptly sat up
to watch his daddies.

The hat put Victor in mind of dancing,
which was exactly as Igor intended.
Victor began to tap his toes
and pat his palms against his thighs,
remembering what he'd seen
of the young men's moves.
The ribbons of his new hat
twirled behind him.

When Victor tried to pick up his feet
and slap them with his hands,
he toppled over backwards --

only to land safely in Igor's arms.

Igor set him gently upright
and said, "Keep going.
You'll figure it out."

"Ah!  Ah!  Ah!" said Adam,
waving his chubby hands.

Igor played along with his own hands,
although he never tried any
of the fancier moves, his body
too twisted for such a limber sport.
Still he smiled to watch Victor
cavort around the room.

They wore themselves out
by the time supper was ready.
It was not so lavish a feast
as Victor might have gotten
if he'd stayed with his parents --
but here he could be himself
and that made the simple fare
all the more satisfying.

There were potatoes and carrots,
turnips and onions all boiled together.
There was a loaf of dark rye bread
with fresh butter and a bit of jam.
There was even a joint of mutton.

Adam was starting to show interest
in solid food, so they let him
pick up bits of potato and carrot
in his little fists.

Victor didn't even realize
that he had started crying
until Igor pulled him close for comfort.
They were suddenly face to face,
near enough to feel each other's breath,
intimate and beloved.

Igor reached up
and cupped his cheek,
brushing away the tears
with a gentle thumb.
"Why are you crying?"
he asked Victor.

The question was enough
to clarify the answer,
and so Victor explained,
"Because I'm so thankful
to have a family of my own."

* * *


Thanksgiving is one example of a harvest festival.  Most cultures around the world have something like this.

The setting of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein rambled over much of Europe, with some interesting historic context.  You can read the novel online.  I'm leaning toward central Europe for the setting of this series, possibly Transylvania, which was under Hungarian rule for a while.

Hungarian folk dance is beautiful and lively, spanning Magyar, Roma, Transylvanian, and other cultures.  Body music and improvisation characterize the dances from this region.  Watch a dance performanceSee some photos of dancers, including the men's hat with ribbons.  Recently we saw a performance of this and I couldn't resist weaving in some of the motifs.

Hungarian folk garb is diverse, with vivid colors in weaving and embroidery as typical of central Europe.  This page focuses on Transylvanian clothes.  Browse pictures of Hungarian clothes.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
From: technoshaman Date: November 11th, 2013 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
"Why are you crying?"
he asked Victor.

The question was enough
to clarify the answer,
and so Victor explained,
"Because I'm so thankful
to have a family of my own."

*happy sigh* *grok*
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 11th, 2013 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed this so much. I think they're an adorable family, and I'm happy to write more about them.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: November 11th, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad to see more of this! And as someone who generally seals himself into a bunker for the entire holiday season, I appreciate seeing this kind of holiday celebration, where things might be hard but still okay.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 11th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I'm glad to see more of this! <<

Yay! I'm happy to hear that.

>> And as someone who generally seals himself into a bunker for the entire holiday season, <<

I sympathize with the temptation. The parts I like most about holidays are ... not always available to me, and I dislike the frenetic shopping and other boister that most people seem to find appealing.

I hope somebody in your system has some tolerance for the seasonal activities. *ponder* Huh, I should look into more of that for Damask, given the way "Strange Gratitudes" went.

>> I appreciate seeing this kind of holiday celebration, where things might be hard but still okay. <<

I'm glad I could help. I think it's something that deserves more coverage. Not everyone celebrates in the same ways. If you haven't already found "Lighting the Darkness," that's another example of trying to blend personal feelings with holiday traditions.
meepalicious From: meepalicious Date: November 14th, 2013 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm really glad this was sponsored. I think I missed it because I usually read your stuff from Dreamwidth (this is [personal profile] perfectworry, btw) and I was getting ready to put it on my holiday_wishes list because it's just so wonderful. I really adore this series, and I'm sorry I couldn't sponsor it myself right now.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 14th, 2013 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you're enjoying this series so much. I really like working with alternative families. Feel free to ask for more of this. The next open prompt call will be this weekend when the crowdfunding Creative Jam has a theme of "seasonal changes."
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: December 22nd, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must have missed this when it came out -- as a former folkdancer I immediately recognized the style of dancing (not that I ever learned it). Yay!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 22nd, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

*GLEE* I am utterly thrilled that I managed to describe the dancing well enough to be recognizable.

I really enjoyed the performance of it that I saw, and I went home thinking, "Gee, this would be great in a piece of writing if I had a place to put it." Took me a little while to think of where it should go, and then I found this.
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