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Poem: "Shouldermates" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Shouldermates"

This poem came out of the December 3, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion.  It also fills the "branding" square in my 8-12-13 card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by catsittingstill.  It belongs to the series Fledgling Grace.


Shouldermates


The littlest angel
wanted to help too,
but was far too small
to become a guardian angel.

So she climbed onto the shoulder
of a young human and
began giving advice.

Before long,
a tiny devil appeared,
and he took up residence
on the opposite shoulder.

Sometimes the human
listened to one of them,
sometimes to the other.

The shoulder-angel
and the shoulder-devil
argued all the time,
but even so, they came
to admire each other's tenacity.

One day their human declared,
"I've decided to become an atheist,"
and brushed them both off
like so much lint.

They crashed to the ground,
stunned by the sudden rejection
and the pain of falling.
They both landed badly,
the angel with a broken wing,
the devil with a twisted ankle.

"Come, lean on me," said the angel
as she lifted the devil to his feet.
Everywhere they touched,
their skin burned,
light and dark energy
annihilating each other --
but it was better than being alone.

"Don't let go of me," said the devil,
clinging to her with his tiny claws.
"I won't," she promised, and she didn't.

They left handprints all over
each other's shoulders and back,
branded into skin and singed into feathers,
but they didn't care.
At least they still had each other.

They fell asleep that way,
huddled on a park bench
like a pair of chipmunks curled together.

They were still there
when a woman who wanted to be a mother
sat down on top of them
and swallowed them into her soul
without even knowing it.

When the twins were born,
everyone exclaimed over the birthmarks
blotched red over their small bodies.

Their mother scoffed at the onlookers
and said, "Who cares what they look  like?
Look at how happy  they are together!"

And for the first time since they lost their perch,
they had someone else to love besides each other.

* * *

Notes:

The pattern of positive and negative energy canceling each other -- sometimes violently -- appears in physics, metaphysics, and entertainment.  Thus celestial and infernal forces tend to be mutually harmful.  However, a hallmark of this setting is that Love outweighs polarity.

Birthmarks appear in many different forms.  Some people believe they are caused by something that happened to the mother and/or baby prior to birth, or even in a past life.  In any case, it is rude to make an issue over birthmarks.

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18 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: December 7th, 2013 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a birthmark, actually. It's a little brown patch on my right arm; it was very useful when I was learning right from left. My mother had one exactly the same, in exactly the same place.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 7th, 2013 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Wow!

>> I have a birthmark, actually. It's a little brown patch on my right arm; it was very useful when I was learning right from left. <<

That would be convenient. Me, I'm ambidextrous and dyslexic, so I can't even use finger-snapping as a distinction because I can do both hands. It's pesky.

>> My mother had one exactly the same, in exactly the same place. <<

Some birthmarks do seem to be hereditary, although it's rare.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 7th, 2013 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I like where this went at the end; I couldn't have seen that coming.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 7th, 2013 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad this worked for you. I wanted to go somewhere different than the usual "shoulder angel and shoulder devil hate each other" trope. I figured after all that time, they might form a bond, and once that happens, it changes where they fit into the universe.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 7th, 2013 07:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

I like the metaphysical nature of it, how they are recognized as a yin-yang of the universe.

I also like how the short lines evokes the size of the devil and angel.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2013 07:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

>> I like the metaphysical nature of it, how they are recognized as a yin-yang of the universe. <<

That was something I aimed for ...

>> I also like how the short lines evokes the size of the devil and angel. <<

... but this was accidental.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 8th, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

That's the beauty of poetry: interpretation.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2013 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Agreed! I love seeing what people make of my work.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 8th, 2013 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Me,too. Especially when they find aspects that add a depth to it I didn't realize was there.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

I have deep readers. It's not rare for them to find well-hidden eastereggs, and occasionally they find one I didn't realize I had placed!
From: technoshaman Date: December 7th, 2013 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
She's *very* good at endings. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 7th, 2013 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

*bow, flourish* Happy to be of service.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 7th, 2013 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, and narrative poetry, which is something I need to work on more myself.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2013 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I've always enjoyed narrative poetry. The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook is a good guide.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 8th, 2013 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll add it to my "to read" list.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 8th, 2013 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Drat. I think it might be out of print. Any suggestions on how to get hold of a copy?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 8th, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Try searching on ABE Books.

Here's a simple guide to narrative poetry.

Also you might like my articles on how to write serial poetry. That's usually narrative, so some of the information will carry over well to single narrative poems.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: December 8th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Thanks a lot! Very useful links.
18 comments or Leave a comment