Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Growing Moss"

This is the linkback poem for the July 7, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. Comment with your fishbowl link(s) to reveal your new verse(s).  All 13 verses have been posted.  Linkers include: thnidu, siege, curiosity, wyld_dandelyon, ng_moonmoth, DW user Lynnoconnacht, and book_worm5.

This poem came out of the June 2015 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from DW user Capriuni. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Growing Moss

Constance strolls through the Hoh Rainforest,
her feet almost silent on the mulched path.
The pillars of trees make it seem like a cathedral.
All around her the world is green-gold with
filtered sunlight too dim to pose a threat
even to her milky, defenseless skin.

She tracks the birdsong with a twinge of envy --
they seem to have no trouble attracting mates.

The forest floor is carpeted with ferns
and assorted broad-leaved undergrowth.
Where a creek cuts through the greenery,
bulrushes cluster along the banks.
Every rock and fallen log is flocked
with a thick layer of emerald moss.

Constance trails a hand along the top of
a boulder, its emerald coat like coarse velvet
under her fingertips. Her relationship, too,
is growing moss. It has been for months.

"Let's just be friends," her boyfriend
Evan had finally said this morning.

Constance can't be sure that
this is because of her albinism
or her superpowers or any other
particular reason, so she just
nods agreement and says that
she's going out for the day.

She could fill up her dome-home
with unhappiness, but she can't
fill up a whole forest. The misty air
swallows her sorrow and the roots
soak it up like they do the bear shit
and dead leaves that fall to the ground.

The woods do not care that part of her life
was growing moss. They will always be
here for her regardless of human foibles.

Constance sits down on the rock,
its thick moss cushioning her seat.

She lets her gift unfold, opening her mind
to the life all around her. The nearest hikers
are out of sight, but she can sense them
trying to spot a songbird that trills overhead.
She can sense, too, the songbird and its kin,
the hyperactive chatter of the squirrels, and
beneath all that, the slow alien thoughts
of the trees as they shape the world
to suit their own mysterious ends.

Constance inhales, exhales,
sharing her breath with the forest.

What will be, will be.
She will let go of this romance,
let it fall to the ground and become
a scaffolding for moss and tardigrades.
Perhaps in time, something new
will take root in her life.

Until then, there will be the woods, in which
Constance can be secluded,
but never alone.

* * *


The Archivist (Constance Clarke) -- She is albino with pale skin, pink eyes, and long straight white hair. She has a softly rounded body with strong shoulders, but not much curve of breast or hip. Although not quite legally blind, her vision is poor and cannot be corrected by regular eyeglasses. Instead Constance wears a bioptic telescope. She also uses large-print books, a scanner/magnifier, and computers with adjustable font size to compensate. Her reading speed is fastest in Braille, though. Sometimes she streaks her hair with colored chalk, since her skin is too sensitive for harsh chemical dyes. Because of her photosensitivity, Constance prefers to stay indoors most of the time. She looks younger than she is due to the lack of weathering. She knows English, Esperanto, Greek, Japanese, Latin, Quileute, and Spanish.
Constance is fascinated by jungle plants which grow in dim light. She enjoys both foliage plants and epiphytes for their interesting leaves. She also breeds orchids. Her home and workspace are liberally decorated with ferns, creepers, and other exotic plants. In college, Constance majored in Library Science and minored in Botany with a specialty in rainforests. Living in Rain City puts her within convenient reach of the Hoh Rainforest, where she did her graduate work. It is fairly safe for her to go outside in the deep shade of the woods there. She has friends in the Hoh Indian Reservation too.
Her house is a lovely two-storey oval dome. The lower level has a mudroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, two guest bedrooms, and an indoor garden facing north. Jungle plants fill the garden area. The upper level has the master bedroom, study, laundry, game room, TV room, and a deck with northern windows overlooking the yard. The upper bathroom also has a corner shower, so that the adjacent wedge is a shower and linen closet, in addition to the toilet room. The center of the upper-level ceiling is tiled in screens set to show a skyscape framed by tree branches, and there are more plants along the deck both on the floor and hanging above it. The only real windows are the flowglass arcs along the north wall of the garden and deck. Other window locations are solid walls with viewscreens instead. Constance enjoys games with tactile (such as Bausack towers) or imaginative (such as roleplaying) aspects rather than board or video games relying more on text and visual images. Her game room is generously stocked and she interfaces with several groups of friends who meet on different nights. Outside, the yard is professionally landscaped into a dense seven-layer food forest.
The Archivist works for SPOON as a librarian, handling the most sensitive documents. This is convenient all around because SPOON customarily stores such records in the basement levels of its bases, so she gets to work safely underground and they get someone who doesn't demand a bonus because of the windowless room. Instead, large wall and ceiling screens provide a shifting 'view' and places to display information. The Archivist is friends with Pythia and the Analyst, along with a variety of other Super-Intellects and information techs. She holds 1/3 of the code key for Granny Whammy's little camo book, on the superhera side.
Origin: Her powers grew in slowly. The Super-Intelligence emerged first, in high school. While studying in the Hoh Rainforest during college, she started to imagine that she could hear people, animals, and even the trees thinking -- then realized it wasn't imagination.
Uniform: On-duty, she wears the Rain City SPOON uniform consisting of a gray shirt and pants with the SPOON logo embroidered in silver on the chest pocket. Off-duty, she favors pale neutrals or pastels to suit her fair coloring. Outdoors, she covers as much of her skin as possible, and wears very dark wraparound glasses. Indoors she likes rose, yellow, or turquoise glasses for rooms with bright lighting.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Librarian, Good (+2) Gamer, Good (+2) Intellectual Friends, Good (+2) Jungle Plants, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Trustworthy
Poor (-2) Navigation
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Intellect, Good (+2) Telepathy
Motivation: To protect and preserve the truth.
Vulnerability: Because albinos do not produce enough protective pigment, Constance is hypersensitive to sunlight. Outdoors, she uses sunscreen, solarproof clothes, a wide-brimmed hat, and tinted glasses.

* * *

Albinism is a defect in melanin production which results in pale skin, hair, and eyes.  In humans, the eyes are most often light blue or lavender, but can be pink; some other species more often have pink to red eyes, such as rabbits.  This difference in coloring can lead to persecution, particularly given negative portrayals in popular culture.  Here's an essay about one person's experience with that.  As with most traits, I have written both good and evil albinos.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, nature, poem, poetry, reading, romance, weblit, writing
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