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Poem: "Like Unformed Clay" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Like Unformed Clay"
This poem came out of the June 3, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] rix_scaedu and Naomi Rivkis. It also fills the "WILD CARD: first meeting" square on my 3-30-14 card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest. It's posted here in trade for the video "Flickering" by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Like Unformed Clay"

Danso went back to high school
not for his own sake but because
Hannah had finally convinced him
that he needed it in order to
help look after his brother and sisters,
or other kids later if he decided
to stick with becoming a foster father.

The first day was hard,
because he'd fallen behind
in all the classes even though
he'd always been a pretty good student.

Living on the street wasn't much help
when it came to studying.

The other people itched at him too,
teachers always telling him
to go here or do this, as if
he hadn't been running his own life
(and four others) for months.

The other students were just children
compared to him, even the seniors;
he kept wanting to tie their loose shoes
and remind them not to lose their mittens,
kept having to remind himself that
they weren't his and he had his hands full.

His class schedule was just a sketch, really,
like unformed clay waiting to become solid;
the principal had given him two weeks
to explore different classes before deciding
which ones felt more comfortable for him.

Danso didn't think he would be
taking any advanced ones.

He could use his superpower
to borrow someone else's talent --
even for ordinary things like math --
but not their knowledge.

Danso liked the school, though,
and the library a made quiet refuge in study hall.
The librarian took a shine to him at once,
helping Danso figure out what he needed
to do in order to catch up.

Maybe school wouldn't be so bad after all.

The home economics class was
three-quarters giggling girls
and a few other boys who couldn't
fit anything else into their schedule,
but the teacher was thrilled to have
someone who could follow directions
and help keep an eye on safety.

That was his last class of the day,
after which Danso stayed
for the Teen Parents meeting.

There was only one other boy in the room,
with tawny skin and dark eyes,
a ruff of short black hair
sticking up in all directions.

He smiled at Danso and held out a hand.
"Hi, I'm Noah Romero," he said.
"It's nice to see another guy in here."

"Danso Ward. I'm new;
this is my first day of school,"
said Danso, taking Noah's hand.

The other boy wasn't a soup --
Danso could sense that at once --
but had a charm of his own.

There was just something about him,
the feel of him in Danso's mind,
all soft potential waiting to find itself
in ways that made Danso want to
dig his hands into it, cool and soothing
as fresh clay on a hot summer day.

Then Danso realized that
he'd forgotten to let go of Noah's hand.
He opened his fingers and sat down,
cheeks heating with a blush that fortunately
wouldn't show through his dark skin.

One of the pregnant girls poked at
a surprisingly realistic baby doll.
"Is there supposed to be
a certain way to hold these things?"

"Yeah, you have to support the head,"
Danso said, picking up the doll to demonstrate.
The pink skin and brown hair made him wonder
what Nathaniel had looked like at this age.

When Danso looked up, he saw
that Noah was smiling at him.
It made Danso feel less alone,
gossamer thread stretched between them
that might grow into a richer connection.

Hannah had been right after all:
going back to school was a great idea.

* * *


Here is an image of Danso Ward just after he turns 17 and re-enrolls in high school, with his new reading glasses.

Noah Romero -- He has brown eyes and tawny skin. His black hair sticks up in short, wild tufts. His life metaphor is basketball, a game that emphasizes cooperation over competition and defense over offense. He values teamwork and having fun.
Qualities: Good (+2) Basketball Player, Good (+2) Coping with Setbacks, Good (+2) Life of the Party, Good (+2) Nimble
Motivation: Focus on the rebounds.

* * *

Teens may become homeless for many reasons, and it poses challenges to their education.

Teenagers who behave as little adults, have children of their own, and/or have special gifts often feel alienated from others their age. This article on divorce discusses how parentified youth may have problems later. There are ways for teens to make friends with peers, and for parents to help teens make friends.

Simple or electronic baby dolls are often used to teach parenting skills to adolescents.

Philosophies may vary depending on the sport and the coach, but basketball lends itself well to teamwork and responsiveness.

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