Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Speaking of Shields"

This poem is spillover from the April 7, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] lynnoconnacht and further discussion with the person who drafted the character of Sintonizao. It has been sponsored by EdorFaus. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Speaking of Shields"

Sintonizao has learned
how to use synaesthesia
to her advantage.

When she says "shield"
and thinks of clarity,
she gets a simple forcefield
that barely ripples the air but
withstands energy attacks very well.

When she says "escudo"
and thinks of silver,
she gets a forcefield that
bends a little, like metal,
instead of breaking under impact.

These are the languages that
she speaks, English and Portuguese,
and there's always a hint of clarity
that carries over as Sintonizao
begins to explore others.

When she says "lindiskjöldr"
and thinks of pale blond wood,
she gets a forcefield which is
tough and resilient as linden.

When she says "isiHlangu"
and thinks of spotted cowhide,
she gets a forcefield that is
alive and responsive.

It is only when she looks into
Scottish Gaelic that she discovers
"sgiath" means both shield and wing,
that thinking of swan-white feathers
can not only deflect light and wind
but also grant limited power of flight,
just enough to get off of dangerous ground.

When Sintonizao visits Ireland
to help with the unrest following
its independence, she meets
a rangy redheaded lad who is
(or possibly was, but no longer is)
a supervillain. Ticker greets her
with a nod and says, "Those are
some fine-colored shields you have."

Then he does something with his own gift
that makes the air ripple around him
for a moment, and Sintonizao realizes
that what she has been calling "clear"
is the same color on him as on her,
and maybe not quite like ordinary clarity.

"Sodath," he says, "fine-colored."
Then he slips into her hand
a piece of paper folded in half,
and saunters away.

In Lebor Ogaim, it reads, and when
Sintonizao looks it up, she finds a list of
colors which are not just about light but about
patterns and feelings and textures as well.

They are words for ideas which
both are and are not colors,
and she thinks as she reads them
that perhaps her gift

is not so new after all.

* * *


Synaesthesia is a different way of perceiving the world through overlapping senses. It can offer benefits even to ordinary people, and more so to soups. Conversely, some people find it distracting and annoying.

escudo (n.)
Spanish and Portuguese coin, 1821, from Spanish/Portuguese escudo, from Latin scutum "shield" (see escutcheon). Also compare ecu.
-- Etymology Online

lindiskjöldr -- a linden shield
-- Viking Shields

isiHlangu (plural: iziHlangu) – traditional large war shield, approximately 4 foot long.
-- Zulu War Vocabulary

In Scottish Gaelic ' a shield' would be sgiath; it can also mean 'wing', 'fin'.

In Lebor Ogaim lists many correspondences for the classic staves, among them a set of colors.

Celtic heritage includes many references to things which might be considered extraordinary, such as the Second Sight. It's also known for art and legends about people with six digits, another feature often associated with supernatural abilities.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, linguistics, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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