Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "All the Colors"

This poem came from the June 3, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from pocketnaomi. It also fills the "toys and games" square on my 3-6-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"All the Colors"


On Saturday morning, Rosita's birth family
came to visit her foster family.
Danso still felt a little nervous, but
he liked seeing them make an effort
to become part of her life again.

Everything felt new and strange,
and he knew it must be worse for Rosita,
who was so young she couldn't remember them
and each meeting seemed like the first.

Faramundo brought along
a set of linking rings in bright colors,
and Amada had a scrapbook
of pictures and nursery rhymes.

The boys took a quick peek at the baby
and then scattered, more interested
in the new toys they could find.

"Eduardo, do you want to come
play with your sister?" Hannah asked.

"No, I'm good," he said without looking up.
He had discovered the small bookcase
filled with assorted children's books
and was currently investigating
a simplified version of Robinson Crusoe.

Hannah handed Rosita to Amada.
"Say hi to your first mommy,"
Hannah said to Rosita,
who promptly began gumming
the end of Amada's long black braid.

Lakia watched them, the tip of her tail
flicking back and forth along her legs.

"You look as skittish as a cat
in a roomful of rocking chairs,"
Amada said. "Do you want to sit with me
while I'm holding Rosita? We could
get to know each other better."

Lakia flitted over and perched on the couch.
Then she coaxed Rosita to latch onto
a purple plastic ring instead of Amada's hair.

"Should those street kids even be here?"
Faramundo muttered to Hannah.
"I hear people like them have ... problems."

"Hey," Danso protested,
but Hannah lifted a hand
and he stopped reluctantly.

"Please let me handle this,"
she said, then turned to Faramundo.
"This is their home and Rosita's their sister,
so yes, they should."

Faramundo grumbled
but at least he quit complaining.

Amada rocked Rosita
while chatting with Lakia.
"What games do you like?"
Amada asked. "When I was your age,
hopscotch was one of my favorites,
because we could draw it anywhere."

"Hadyn taught me to jump rope,"
Lakia said. "Hannah gave us each our own,
pretty ones with all the colors and handles that spin."

Hannah showed Amada some of the
bonding exercises in hopes of
creating a healthy attachment
with Rosita. "Try eye-gazing,"
Hannah suggested.

Rosita put up with that
for about a minute,
and then started fussing.

"Here, let me take her for a while,"
Danso said. "I can usually
get her to settle down."

Amada passed him the baby,
gentle hands lingering over
the soft ruffles of Rosita's dress.

Danso paced back and forth with her,
past Eduardo at the bookcase
and Hadyn with her dolls,
Nathaniel and Gil playing with blocks,
Fernán asleep on a beanbag.
Rosita soon quieted.

Amada began singing softly,
"De colores, de colores
se visten los campos en la primavera
De colores, de colores
son los pajaritos que vienen de afuera ..."


"Ah ah ah!" Rosita said,
trying to climb up Danso's shoulder.

"Oh, so now you want to go back to your mama,
is that it?" Danso said. "Can you say Mama?"

Rosita just gurgled and waved her hands
as Danso handed her back to Amada.

"Keep singing," Hannah said.
"She's babbling, and babies at that stage
love hearing new sounds."

"De colores, de colores
es el arco iris que vemos lucir
Y por eso los grandes amores
de muchos colores me gustan a mí ..."

Amada sang, Rosita watching her intensely.

At the sound of the Spanish,
Eduardo looked up from his book.
He trundled over to Rosita and said,
"Hola, hermanita."

She squealed, kicking her feet
so that one bootie flew off.

Eduardo grinned and picked it up.
"You are just like your big brother!"
he said. "Gil can't keep his shoes on either."

"Nathaniel is the same way,"
Hannah said.

Indeed, both toddlers had already
lost their shoes somewhere.
Just then, Gil bonked Nathaniel on the head
with one of the soft foam blocks.
Nathaniel sat down and howled.

"No hitting," Faramundo said.
He picked up Gil and walked away.

It took Hannah a few minutes
to soothe Nathaniel.
Hadyn got him interested
in a pair of beanbag dolls.

Meanwhile Amada had moved on
from singing to playing with the rings.
Rosita tugged on the toys as her mother
named all the colors and counted them.

"Azul, rojo, amarillo," Amada said.
"Uno, dos, tres ..."

"If you keep doing that,
she's going to grow up
talking like the Mexicans,"
Faramundo said.

Amada rolled her eyes.
"I speak English just fine,
and so will Rosita," said Amada.

"Bilingual workers earn more
in many job fields," Hannah added.

Danso hadn't known that.
Spanish class at school had seemed
like a waste of time to him,
but if it was good for Rosita and good for work,
maybe he should pay more attention.

It was something he could have in common
with Rosita's first family, or at least
her mother and brothers.

Looking around the room
made him feel a little more secure,
all the colors of family tumbled together
from the pink of Hadyn through the soft browns
of Lakia and the Durante brothers
to the chocolate of himself and Hannah.

They might not seem like a good match
at first contact, but Danso believed
they would find a way to fit together.

* * *

Notes:

Browse some toys and games for a five-month-old baby. There are many favorites including plastic rings.

Robinson Crusoe is one of many classics often condensed for children.

Eye Gazing is one exercise for parent/child bonding. Such exercises help in forming new bonds or restoring disrupted ones.

This is Rosita's dress, not an impractical frill but good playclothes.

See the lyrics for the song "All the Colors."

"Hola, hermanita."
"Hello, little sister."

Toddler toys such as foam blocks and beanbag dolls are fun and safe.

Learn colors and numbers in Spanish.

Some Hispanic people, such as Amada, are happily bilingual. Others such as Faramundo can't or won't speak Spanish, and discourage their children from speaking it, especially if it connects with self-hate. However, being bilingual really can be a career asset. There are tips for raising bilingual children.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, linguistics, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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