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Poem: "En Décalage" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "En Décalage"
This poem is spillover from the May 15, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] lone_cat. It also fills the "costumes" square of my 5-1-18 General card for the Pro Wrestling Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] mama_kestrel. It belongs to the Damask thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"En Décalage"


Savvy has known Damask
for half a year before he begins
to notice something truly odd.

They haven't spent that much time
together, so it's hard to pin down
at first, but the longer it goes on,
the more certain he becomes.

Il ne faut pas se fier aux apparences,
Savvy's soup mentor had taught him.
One should not trust appearances.

Damask might seem to be all of a sort,
but that didn't necessarily make it so.

Something about the superhera
was en décalage. Mismatched.

He noticed it first with their costumes.

Savvy's outfit was a swashbuckling mastery:
all black clothes with a dapper coat and
a floppy hat with a blue, a white, and
a red ostrich plume pinned on
by a gold fleur-de-lys.

Sometimes Damask
admired it, other times
scorned it -- but Savvy never
got the sense of being lied to.

The opinion simply changed,
as quick as the wind and
just as unpredictable.

Damask's costume changed,
too, from the awful blue-and-red
that looked like bad wallpaper
to the softer duck-egg teal with
swirls of bright fawn embroidery.

She kept the impassive white mask, though.

Sometimes, she just seemed to wear
the costume differently than others --
the way she walked, or stood,
or brushed the hood away.

Savvy also noticed that
certain of the changes
always appeared together.

The sharp, swaggering walk
went with the tendency
to jump up and hit things.

The soft voice went with
the rolled shoulders and
hands patting for injuries.

And so on, so on, so on.

Then there was the effect
on his interest, which was
nothing short of bizarre.

Savvy was a lady's man, and
Damask was a very fine lady ...
most of the time. Most.

Then she'd bound into
a different pose and he'd
forget what had fascinated
him about her before, all of
her feminine charms gone
like a candle flame blown out.

That was creepy, in a way.

It took a while before
the possibility dawned
on him that maybe he
wasn't seeing things.

Maybe Damask wasn't
she but really they.

Savvy had heard things
about Mindflare and
his twisted gift that
raised ... questions.

It might explain why she
was so en décalage.

He didn't doubt
Damask's capability
in a cape fight, no.

He just wondered how ...
intact she really was.

You couldn't just sidle up
to a working acquaintance and
ask that sort of thing, though.

So Savvy watched, and
said nothing about it.

But he tried to treat Damask
the way she was acting in
the moment, rather than
always the same.

* * *

Notes:

Savoir Faire "Savvy" (Renaud Cœur) -- He is a handsome Frenchman with fair skin, shoulder-length straight brown hair, and blue eyes. He is a professional dancer with a lean fit body, not very tall. His soup friends often call him Savvy.
Origin: Act of derring-do: When a theatre caught fire during a performance, Renaud leaped into action to save members of the audience, swinging on ropes and jumping over flames. The ghost of the theatre's founder then appeared to him and bestowed superpowers.
Uniform: All black, close-fitting clothes with a dapper black coat; floppy black hat with a blue, a white, and a red ostrich plume pinned on by a gold fleur-de-lys. Standard weapons are rapier, dagger, and pistol. Savvy paints his face with stylized makeup instead of wearing a mask.
Qualities: Master (+6) Dancer, Expert (+4) Jack-of-All-Trades, Good (+2) Confidence, Good (+2) Romance.
Poor (-2) Oh, Him Again (people are often dazzled by him at first, but the more they know him, the less they like him)
Powers: Good (+2) Swashbuckling, Good (+2) Wits, Average (0) Agility, Average (0) Speed.
Vulnerability: Average (0) Sacre Bleu, Can't You See I'm French?! (avid Francophone, avid countryman; but the French flag's colors are the same as America's so that confuses people, which really pisses him off)
Motivation: Rush in to save the day.

* * *

1. Il ne faut pas se fier aux apparences.
Literal translation: “One should not trust appearances.”
Meaning: This saying is the English equivalent of “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” or “Looks can be deceiving.” It means that you should get to know someone before you make judgments about him/her. In short, “Don’t make assumptions.”
Usage: This saying is most commonly used to refer to people, particularly those whose appearance seems to be en décalage (mismatched) with their profession. For example: A big, burly man may in fact be a ballerina and that scruffy dude you always see at the bus stop might be a world-renowned opera singer. You might want to get a job that lets you use French, but maybe other people don’t think you even seem like the type to learn French. You never know, so don’t judge.
-- Common French Sayings

Ham customarily displays assertive body language while Clement displays submissive body language.

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