Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Family You've Got"

Working through the recordkeeping for the November 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl I realized there were new prompters that I missed in action, so you get a second freebie from that session.  This poem was inspired by a prompt from DW user Chanter_greenie.  It also fills the "innocent" square in my 10-6-13 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  It belongs to the series Diminished Expectations.

WARNING: The setting is dystopic; it includes severe birth defects and a lot of oppression.  But this is actually one of the more positive poems in the series, focused on family of choice.

The Family You've Got

These four grow together
in the orphanage --
Credence, Silence,
Reverence, and Innocence --
put them down in the common pen
and they always find each other,
creeping along like little inchworms.

Credence is the only one of them
who can both speak and listen;
he is the first to learn how to communicate,
and he teaches the others as best he can.

Silence is the only one who can see,
and she cannot speak to warn them of danger,
but she finds other ways instead.

Reverence and Innocence are alike
except for their sex, each having
a mouth and nose, but no eyes or ears.
It takes a long time before they can learn
to produce more than grunts or wails.

There is a language that all of them share,
not sign language as others would think of it
because none of them have arms or legs,
but one they call kiss-talk that lets them
interact with each other across
the boundaries of their differences.
It is easier for the three who have mouths
but Silence manages with her eyes instead.

They feed each other in ways
that have no spoken names,
loving touches that keep them alive
when others dwindle and die,
questions and answers that help them think
when most grow up blunted
by the lack of stimulation.

They are trusting and subtle,
faithful and pure, despite
the predicament of their birth.

They know that terrible things happen
because Credence and Silence have heard it,
Silence has seen it, Reverence and Innocence
can feel it -- and they are determined
to escape before it happens to them.

They have committed no crime
to deserve such mistreatment,
and this is a thing they know,
regardless of what is said
by those above them.
They are innocent, not stupid.

It does not matter that they are
unrelated by blood;
it only matters that they have
love and loyalty to bind them
they are brothers and sisters by choice.
You work with the family you've got.

The nannies are careless,
speaking freely around them,
so the four siblings watch and listen
and bide their time.

When the chance comes for escape,
they will all be ready.

* * *


Twin language, idioglossia, or cryptophasia can occur between any children raised very closely together but is most common with multiples.  It offers an alternative avenue of communication, much like being bilingual.

Lack of touch can lead to failure to thriveChildren need contact comfort to survive, a key reason for the high death rate in orphanages.  Healthy touch can help overcome this problem.  Here the children have figured out how to rely on each other instead of adults to meet their needs.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, free stuff, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing

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