Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Until It's Done"

This poem was inspired by discussions about Damask and by the "impossible" square in my 10-6-13 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Until It's Done"


It's hard to learn
who we are now,
what different skills
and memories we have
inherited from Maisie.

The notebook helps us
figure out more about
ourselves and each other.
We write down what we do,
what we think and feel,
what we can remember.

We need to know
when to switch places,
and how to do that
on purpose instead of
only by reflex.

Our memory, at least,
is getting better --
sometimes we still
lose pieces in switching,
but not as much
as when we did not know
about each other.

Then there are
the strange things
that happen when
we feel pressured.
It's different for each of us.

For me it's a matter of insight --
I can just tell what others
are thinking or feeling.
Sometimes it's hard to tell
where I end and they begin.

This whole situation is impossible.
I'd chalk it off as imagination
but it's not the only example.


I don't like to make
too much of a splash.
I prefer to keep things quiet.

It's easier if I can pretend
that I'm alone, but
my headmates are
never far away.

There are others, too,
people who knew Maisie
and think they know me --
but they don't,
none of them do.

I know that some
of my headmates wish
we could talk to someone
about all of this,
but the time we tried it,
that didn't work.

It's too hard to hold still,
to keep one headmate
in front long enough.

I'm starting to notice, though,
that I get away with things
I probably shouldn't --
the way I can slip past
without being seen,
or disappear into shadows
when it should be
impossible to hide.

It's like people see
what I want them to see.


The funny thing is,
we don't look different
on the outside,
but we are different
in more than the inside.

We use this body
in unique ways.
When I'm out front,
it feels a little stronger,
a bit more graceful.

This is the first way that we
practice switching on purpose:
they call me out to lift things
or open the lids of jars.

It is harder to choose
to come out than to be pulled
by my need to protect ourselves,
but we're learning.

This is the first way that we
realize there is more going on
than just imagination.

I'm moving things around
on the big bookcase because
Maisie's stuff is all jumbled
and we want to divide it
so we can put each of ours
on a separate shelf.

Suddenly the box on top falls
and hits me on the head,
the whole bookcase tilting
ominously forward
as I fling my hand up --

and there it stops,
held at an impossible angle
as if by suddenly solid air,
waiting until I suck in a shaky breath
and shove it back against the wall.

My head hurts.
I'm exhausted.
I look at my hand.
It's shaking a little.


I move with the pain,
leaning forward into the body,
because this is what I do
as much as Ham
protects us and lifts things --

the way he just, somehow,
kept a bookcase from mashing us.

The pain is a cold patch
at the top of my head,
running down my body
like trickles of icewater.

I imagine catching it,
cupping it in my hands,
and look -- I'm not shaking
and I'm not tired anymore
the way Ham was
a moment ago.

It seems impossible
to recover so fast.

The pain is fading away,
and this is usually when
I'd fall back inside.

Instead I concentrate
just to see if we can
manage a deliberate switch,
calling to Clement
because he's the one who
got Maisie's first-aid skills.


It's oddly gentle this time,
Keane's voice drawing me out
instead of the sharp yank of a crisis.

I can feel a faint ache
at the top of my head,
but whatever Keane did
has tapped off most of the pain.

I go into the bathroom
to check it anyway.
It's minor, just a scrape
over a bit of bruising.

I take my time cleaning it anyway
because there is no point
in being careless --
and that's how I notice
that the injury is
healing faster than it should be.

It's not fast enough to see,
not quite, more like watching
one of those slow time-lapse films
where a flower unfolds.

yet undeniable.

My fingers tingle, a little,
like I've dipped them into cold water.
I'm doing this, somehow.

That thought scares me enough
that I scuttle back inside.


I'm left staring at myself
in the bathroom mirror.

The day is splinters and shards
in my mind, memories glittering
like broken glass as I try
to fit the pieces together.

The notebook helps us
to organize our awareness,
but it can only do so much,
especially when there isn't time
to write down what happens.

Just focusing on the words
to the exclusion of all distractions
is a good way to affirm control
and be here now.

Still, the pattern is clear --
we're not ordinary anymore.

We have gained some kind of powers,
and the world is not always
very kind to soups.

Or multiples, for that matter.

I haven't noticed anything
so special about myself,
except that I seem to have
more of Maisie's everyday skills --

which makes sense,
if we were cut into
roughly equal sizes.

Maisie should have died
during that kidnapping --
did die, really,
leaving us behind.

It's hard to find an anchor
in reality, skittering among
infinite possibilities when
anything or nothing could happen.

Everything seems impossible,
but that's always how it is,
until it's done.

The work ahead of us
seems endless too,
until it's done.

The box of stuff
from atop the bookcase
is now scattered on the floor.

With a sigh, I sit down
and start cleaning up the mess.

Damn Mindflare anyway.

* * *


"It always seems impossible until it's done."
-- Nelson Mandela

Multiples may experience a variety of challenges and need to learn special coping techniques. Differentiation entails distinguishing among headmates. Memory work helps overcome inconsistent memories. Control over switching lets the system choose who is best for handling the current situation. Derealization causes the world to feel false or distant, and may be addressed by attention exercises.

Journaling is a common method for finding and speaking with headmates. (Some of these references do not use the most favorable vocabulary for multiples.)

Many different things can qualify as superpowers. Remember that a superpower is anything useful that other people can't do, or that you do tremendously better than other people. Explore some ways of identifying your superpower and learn how to develop some practical superpowers. Identifying and training your powers is a necessary part of becoming a superhero.

Clarity's power is telempathy, a combination of telepathy and empathy. Psychic telepathy primarily involves sending and receiving thoughts with others, and can be developed with practice. Psychic empathy is similar but with emotions; there are exercises for this skill too. Note the overlap with psychological empathy and its exercises for gaining insight. Many superpowers just take an ordinary ability and raise it to an extraordinary level, although some add completely new possibilities.

Mira's power is illusion. Psychic or magical illusion entails such effects as the popular "do not notice me." It's pretty easy to get people to see what they expect to see.

Ham's power is telekinesis. Learn how to move things with your mind.

Keane's power is pain manipulation, especially pain empowerment. Various mental techniques can reduce the perception of suffering, which makes it easier to channel pain in positive directions. (This next reference is sexual.) Masochists also experience and process pain in very different ways than people usually do.

Clement's power is healing, both regeneration of self and healing of others. Psychic energy healing comes in many forms and styles. There are instructions for healing yourself and healing someone else.

Maze doesn't have a superpower per se. Instead she got the lion's share of the everyday abilities. (The soulmass of Maisie plus the extra bits that Mindflare shed in the struggle all got divided into roughly equal portions per headmate, but it separated into discrete chunks of this or that ability rather than giving them slivers of the same thing.) However, common sense and practicality can work as well as superpowers. They help cope after a crisis by building mindfulness and resilience. In superhero terms, this could be considered a version of "peak human ability" (see examples) -- the way Batman is an ordinary person with extraordinary training and supplies rather than special powers.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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