Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "When No One Else Will"

This poem is spillover from the December 1, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] chanter_greenie, LJ user My_partner_doug, and Anthony Barrette. It also fills the "suspicious" square in my 12-1-15 card for the Defining Character Bingo fest, and the "supernatural elements" square in my 9-4-15 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony and Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Monster House.

Warning: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the more detailed warnings, some of which are spoilers. There are references to past abuse, post-traumatic reactions, questionable relationship dynamics, entities which may be parasitic or mutually beneficial depending on context, and other challenges. If these are touchy things for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"When No One Else Will"


He was afraid when he met her,
because she could see his cloud,
the way he could see hers, and
the only other people who had
seen his had hurt him.

So he avoided the new girl
in school, but he couldn't stop
looking at the wisp of cloud that
followed her like a mare's tail.

It was pretty, that cloud,
and it sparkled in the sun.

He tried to ignore it,
but his own cloud snuck off
to play tag with hers, and
that made her giggle.

He pinched her when
the teacher wasn't looking,
but she didn't cry or
try to hit him back.

She just smiled and
whispered, "I like you too."

That was weird.

He didn't like her.
His cloud might, but
he certainly did not.

She was just a dumb girl,
and irritating, not cute, so
nobody would like her.

He didn't.

They kept getting
stuck together, though,
because nobody else wanted
to partner with them on projects.

She was smart, too.
That was also annoying.
It meant that his grades got better,
which didn't suck nearly as much.

At recess she sat under the tree
with her cloud curled up
in her lap like a cat.

"Why aren't you afraid of me?"
he said. "Everyone else is."

She shrugged. "Because
you can't do anything to me
that hasn't already been done."

That wasn't just weird,
it was downright creepy.

His cloud chose that moment
to pounce on hers, and they
scampered all around the tree,
thunderhead chasing mare's tail.

The girl laughed and said,
"Oh, there they go again.
Pangur Bán is so fond
of him! What's his name?"

"Hasn't got a name,"
the boy muttered.
"Don't like it when
people pay attention
to him, they hurt him.
They don't want me
to have him, but he's
all I got and I'm not
letting go of him."

"Of course we cling to
our demons," she said.
"They hold us when
no one else will."

"Yeah," he said hoarsely.

"You'll never get him to grow
into himself without a name, though,"
she went on. "How about Pyewacket?
That's a nice traditional demon name."

"Grow into himself," the boy echoed,
"what's that supposed to mean?"

"You know, when they stop being
gloomy all the time and learn how
to reflect your moods for real,
like mine can," she said.

"How," he said, and had
to stop to clear his throat,
"how did you do that?"

"I made friends with her,"
the girl said with a smile.

"And gave her a funny name,"
said the boy, watching as
the mare's tail frisked around.

"It's not funny, it's from
an old poem," the girl said.
"I know it by heart." She sat up
and recited a verse of it:

"Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in her trade;
I get wisdom day and night,
Turning Darkness into light."


There was something strange
and ancient in the words, that
stirred the hair on the back of
his neck and made his cloud
come back to cuddle with him.

"Pyewacket," he said,
trying out the taste of it,
and his cloud quivered,
tufts of gray rolling
through the black.

"That's the secret," she said.
"They're always there for us, but
they can be fair weather friends
or foul weather friends, and
which they are is up to us."

"And you really turned yours
from black to white, she didn't
just come that way?" he asked.

"Really truly," she said.
"You can do it too."

"Yeah, maybe," the boy said.

"I've even heard," she whispered,
"that some people can make rainbows."

"But rainbows are all happy unicorn crap,"
he protested. His life was nothing like that,
and he didn't think hers had been either.
"They're not for the likes of us."

"Don't be silly," she said. "Everyone knows
that you can't get rainbows without rain."

* * *

Notes:

Mare's tail clouds indicate fair weather.

Picking on girls is a way that uncultured boys show affection, which can make it difficult to distinguish harassment from flirting and also teaches kids that abuse is normal. Abuse survivors may seek out abusive relationships and/or become abusive themselves, because that's what feels normal to them.

Pangur Bán is a white cat in The Secret of Kells, visible in this video clip, but the name dates back at least as far as an Irish poem. It means "White Walker."

The clouds are not actually infernal demons, but energy creatures of the Personal Raincloud trope. Here the girl observes that they are a source of comfort in the absence of others.

Pyewacket really is a traditional name cited for a demonic familiar.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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