Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Composing a Movement"

Based on an audience poll, this is the free epic for the November 8, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl meeting its $200 goal. It came out of the October 2015 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] capriuni. It also fills the "healthy touch" square in my 8-1-15 card for the As You Like It Bingo Fest, and the "sympathetic" square in my 8-31-15 card for the Tones Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Composing a Movement"

Claire enjoyed walking around
the campus of Loyola University
with its broad sidewalks and
stately trees rising overhead.

Palm Court was a favorite place
because its crossed-circle path
offered so many choices.

She spotted Jaimeson,
led by his guide dog Buttercup,
a look of intense concentration
covering his brown face. Fingertips
roved over the tactile map that
shifted its shape as he went.

"Hi, Jaimeson," said Claire.
"I'm enjoying the sun.
What are you up to?"

"Hi, Claire," he replied,
and Buttercup also gave
a polite woof of greeting.
"We're learning the paths
around campus. It's fun,
but a lot of work."

"You got so excited that you
forgot to shave this morning?"
she asked, noticing spots
of stubble along his chin.

Jaimeson sighed. "No,
I can't see to shave so I'm
swapping services with
my roommates. They do
my face, and I reach things
on high shelves for them.
But we're not great at it yet."

"It's a clever solution, but it
sounds frustrating while you're
learning," Claire said.

"Better than cutting my face
while trying to learn how
to shave myself," he said.
"I know some guys do, but I'm
not eager to lose that much skin."

"Let's walk together, and maybe
we can think of something," Claire said,
and so they strolled along with
Buttercup leading the way.

It was beautiful to watch
man and dog together, as if
they were composing a movement
between them, even though they
had not been together very long.

"I thought about asking around at
the university to see if anyone else
would be willing to swap with me,
but I don't know many people
here yet," Jaimeson said.

"You've met Valentina, because
she comes over and does makeup
for party nights," Claire pointed out.
"Why not ask her if she wants
someone to practice on regularly?
I don't know if it's quite what you
need, but it's a start -- and she
might know more people."

"That's a good idea," said Jamieson.

So they tracked down Valentina, who
was willing to help with personal tasks
but didn't know anything about shaving.

"Ask the medical students," she suggested.
"The ones who want to become nurses or
health aides take classes on how to care for
people who can't do things for themselves.
Even as novices, they have real training.
Usually they practice on each other, but
I think the teachers accept volunteers too."

"That seems like kind of a waste,"
said Jaimeson. "I mean, they don't really
need the help, and other people do."

"If you could make the connection,
then it wouldn't be wasted work
anymore," Claire said.

"Yeah, but then it's wage theft,"
Valentina argued. "It's bad enough
that some businesses try to scam
students into working for free."

"It's not theft if it's a fair exchange,"
Claire argued. "The veterans would
get more help, and the students would
get more practice -- with the kind of folks
they'll actually be attending later so it's
better than just the classwork. Plus
it's an opportunity for healthy touch,
and that's good for everyone."

"Maybe we could make it official,"
Jamieson said. "Talk to the teachers
too, so participating students would get
class credit for their work, and I'd be
happy to do paperwork giving them
feedback on what works or doesn't."

"What about getting a grant?"
Valentina said. "Then you could
afford to hire personal aides if
you find a good match."

"Sure, we can try that," Jamieson said.
"It's hard hiring help like that when
you don't know any of the applicants."

Claire caught the faint, ghostly shimmer
of her superpower activating, or thought
she did -- it was difficult to tell for sure --
shifting the luck in their favor.

"So now the question is, can you
find the Pre-Health Advisor
from here?" said Claire.

"The academic advisors are in
the Student Success Center
in Marquette Hall, and so is
the Disability Services Office,"
Jamieson said. "We are
well acquainted with the place."

"Lead the way," she invited.

Jamieson flicked his fingers over
his tactile map. "The Palm Court
is to the left of Marquette Hall, so
we need to go ... this way," he said,
turning in place. "Buttercup, forward."

Claire smiled as she fell into step
beside them again. It felt good
to help people figure out
their own solutions.

* * *


Miradoir (Claire Bonheur) -- She has tawny-fair skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and long wavy hair of light brown. She comes from a well-to-do family in the French Riviera. Her signature perfume is Clair de Lune, which lasts a long time with the interesting feature of shifting focus subtly. It starts out with bright citrus notes in the morning, turns floral in midday, and ends with vanilla.
Claire is a student at Loyola University who has come to America to study the evolution of French-based creole languages and other variants, particularly Cajun French and Louisiana Creole, with secondary interest in Haitian Creole and Antillean Creole. Her later plans include traveling to Canada for graduate work, studying Quebec French and Métis French. Her activism originally focused on endangered languages and marginalized ethnic groups, but has grown to include superpowers.
Her mystical artifact conveys Mirror Powers, so far including Reflective Luck and Soulgazing. It may add more over time. Unlike most artifacts, the compact does NOT have to be worn in order to work, or even have to be kept. Instead it activates the user's own natural abilities if any. So it wouldn't work for just anyone; it has a limited range of potential superpowers that it can manifest. Aside from the Mirror Powers it can also awaken Psychic Powers, Light Powers, Elemental Powers, and some Energy Powers. Keeping the artifact longer does make it easier to strengthen extant powers or develop new ones. Reflective Luck does not affect Claire directly, but rather improves her life by affecting the people around her. Those who intend harm to her get bad luck, making poor life decisions or running afoul of mischance. Those who treat her well get good luck, improving their choices and bringing good chances. It's always on, and so far she has no control of it. Soulgazing gives Claire subtle hints about what people are like. She has some instinctive control of this.
Origin: At sixteen, Claire inherited her aunt's antique compact mirror. The case is gold, decorated with enamel, pearls, and glass cabochons. Soon she developed Mirror Powers.
Uniform: None. She tends to wear women's suits at school or professional occasions, casual fashions most other places, and wilderness gear for traipsing through rural Louisiana to meet contacts.
Qualities: Good (+2) Activist, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Linguist, Good (+2) Making Friends, Good (+2) Smart
As a linguist, she knows Basque, Breton, English, French, French Sign Language, Italian, and Spanish.
Powers: Expert (+4) Mirror Powers
Motivation: To see and to be seen.

Jaimeson Tate
-- He has brown skin, one brown eye, and nappy dark brown hair worn short on top and shaved at the sides. He is fully blind, his left eye missing and his right nonfunctional. He navigates with a guide dog, Buttercup, and wants to learn how to pinpoint people with his other senses. Buttercup is a golden retriever, and she shares her owner's bubbly personality. Prior to his injury, he served as an Army sniper, but it wasn't even a year before he was sent home with a medical discharge. Now he lives in Suite 105a of the Laguardia Residence Hall in Easy City. Jaimeson prefers playing dice to cards, and particularly excels at Pirate Dice.
Qualities: Good (+2) Dice Games, Good (+2) Keen Senses, Good (+2) Making Friends, Good (+2) Sense of Humor, Good (+2) Veteran Sniper
Poor (-2) Fully Blind

Neon Girl (Valentina Boyd) -- She has light brown skin, green eyes, and straight black hair. She can make neon colors on or near herself, or put them on other people where they last for a few minutes to a few hours. Valentina attends Loyola University in Easy City. There she studies to become a makeup artist, and already hires herself out to decorate people for Mardi Gras and other parties. She also belongs to the Gumbo Ya-Ya club for soups and their allies.
Origin: In junior high, she was playing with homemade makeup along with several other girls. One of them turned out to be a budding Super-Gizmologist, and the makeup left Valentina with superpowers.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) College Student, Good (+2) Charisma, Good (+2) Creativity
Powers: Good (+2) Illusion Powers
Motivation: To feel pretty.

* * *

Palm Court is to the left of Marquette Hall, and flocks of parakeets live there.

There are tactile maps for blind people. Here is an example with raised colorful lines. This one is punched into paper like Braille is, and shows a floor plan. 3D printers let visually impaired folks make their own maps like this one. Another option is a talking Braille map.

Pre-Health/Pre-Med is a program available at Loyola.

Paid vs. unpaid internships are sticky. Terramagne law has some exceptions to help people learn skills and find work. Among the things these are making a specific educational plan, calculating a cash value for that coaching, and if a job is offered then the pay is retroactive. The timeframe is usually short to discourage employers from training people far enough to take advantage of developing skill without pay, but there are also options to ramp up pay from amateur to professional levels. In particular there are novice licenses for a lot of professions, and many of those let young people "try out" the most basic parts of a job at half pay under supervision of an expert.

The Student Success Center in Marquette Hall holds both the Pre-Health Advisor and Disability Services.

"Forward" is one of the basic guide dog commands.

[personal profile] chanter_greenie has rightly pointed out that guide dogs are customarily expected to be quiet and calm while working.  That said, there is a range.  Older and/or mellower dogs tend to be discreet to downright ghostlike.  Younger and/or bouncier dogs tend to speak up more, although the training seems to turn full-voiced barks into low woofs or subvocalized whuffs.  Jaimeson and Buttercup are well matched in personality, but they've just gotten together.  In a few years, they may settle down some -- or not.  That varies too.  The important thing is for guide dogs to be mannerly.  A low woof hello may be acceptable to some owners but not others; loud barking definitely is not.

Barter is a useful alternative to cash. It can be used by small businesses and individuals.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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