?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Poem: "The Storybearer" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Storybearer"
This poem is spillover from the September 4, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "sharing" square in my 9-1-18 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Big One and Mercedes threads of the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem discusses the aftermath of a natural disaster. It is mostly comfort, though, as the hurt part is largely offscreen.


"The Storybearer"

[Monday, May 30, 2016]


The second day after the earthquake
was Monday, but it didn't feel
like one to Candy Cain.

None of the usual things
were happening today --
no morning newspaper
because everyone was
too busy passing supplies,
no school because the buses
were needed for the refugees.

Everyone insisted that Mercedes
would get back to normal "soon,"
but Candy had her doubts about that.

Too much of the West Coast was simply gone.

Rain City had been pounded to gravel,
and Portland had fared little better.

San Francisco had gotten some help
from the redwoods of all things, so
it was only somewhat shaken up.

San José and Santa Cruz were worse.
Los Angeles and San Diego were devastated.

San Bernardino was in ruins because it
had never quite gotten around to retrofitting
most of its buildings to withstand earthquakes.

Several small towns built on sandspits
(how was that ever going to have been
a good idea?) had just slid into the ocean.

In Mercedes, the shaking had been so minor
that the disaster hardly seemed real, except
for the refugees flooding in from the west and
first responders coming mostly from the east.

Of them all, Candy was most intrigued
by Kazane Miyamoto, a reporter who
specialized in trauma-informed journalism
and referred to herself as a storybearer.

She walked through the parking lot
swarming with survivors and helpers,
her Siamese cat Ayumu twining
through the chaos on his leash
(and how had she convinced
a cat to put up with that?) like
a tiny emperor in a fur coat.

She never pushed. She merely
asked people if they had a story
that they would like to share.

And the stories came pouring out.

There was the woman who
had lifted a car off her baby, but
she didn't have Super-Strength,
just adrenaline and desperation
and a little knowledge of physics.

There was the man who
had been pushed to safety
by a woman he didn't know,
who had died under a rockfall.

There was the grocer who posted
a sign reading: Earthquake sale!
100% off! Everything must go!


There was the boy who had climbed
a tree to escape a tsunami and
a woman who fled another one
in her racing wheelchair.

There was the girl who had seen
a policeman running toward the beach
yelling into a megaphone to evacuate
tourists who didn't understand what
the tsunami sirens meant, and that
was the last anyone saw of him.

There was the speedster who
manifested during the emergency
and then caught on fire (who would
have believed that if it hadn't been
caught on cellphone cameras?) when
synthetic fabric melted from friction.

There was the fireman who was
trapped in a collapsed building
and went deeper to shut off
the gas and water pipes.

There was the baby found
floating in his battered carseat
without a scratch on him.

There was the boater who
had been saved by a whale.

Candy knew that she overheard
only a handful of the tales that
people were telling, as she
went back and forth with
messages or supplies.

At one point, the teenager
telling his story almost fell
when his knees buckled
under the weight of it, and
Candy scrambled to catch him
with a solid-light chair before
he could hit the pavement.

The people Kazane listened to
felt better afterwards, though --
purged of their fear or grief at least
for a little while, or grateful for a chance
to witness the heroism they had seen.

Sometimes, that was all you could do
after a disaster: tell the stories, so
that they wouldn't be forgotten.

Kazane never seemed to tire.

She spoke and listened,
wrote and recorded.

Ayumu walked through
a forest of legs and purred,
his red string leash binding
people together almost at random.

Candy admired them from a distance
even as she continued working.

When it came time to eat,
Mr. Yue brought Kazane
a whole poached duck
(how had he found the time
to make that in all this ruckus?)
while everyone else was getting
lo mein and red bean soup and
cricket crunch bars that Candy
had not dared to try yet.

There was even a bowl
of scraps for the cat.

As Candy watched,
the storybearer sat down
on a bench with her back
to the rest of the crowd.

Perhaps Kazane was
getting tired after all
(who wouldn't be,
after that?) and might
like some privacy.

So Candy cast a wall
in the shape of a crescent,
silver as the waxing moon,
to shield the storybearer from
the bitter truths, just for a little while.

She hoped it would be enough.

* * *

Notes:

Candace [Candy] Cain

Height: 5’3”
Eyes: Green
DoB: 29/12/1989

Hair: white & red stripes

Born in Boston, Mass, lived there for the first 12 years of her life. Father died in a car accident during a family camping trip, when they were clipped by an truck, which sent the family car spinning off the road and into a river. Father [ Henry, Charles] died on impact with truck. Mother [Barbara] was injured and trapped, as the car sank.

Candace who was in the back seat was unharmed, but unable to escape.

They were saved by the Super-hera Ms Amazing [who witnessed the accident in her civilian identity] . Ms Amazing used her super-strength to tear open the car door and rescue them, but was unable to revive Henry.

Candace developed a case of hero-worship, writing to Ms Amazing on a regular basis in subsequent years. Ms Amazing’s public relations agent did not forward the letters. Candy continued to write, as her home-life deteriorated she became fixated on Ms Amazing, who became a surrogate parental figure, her mother being emotionally absent due to post-traumatic depression and PTSD.

Candy developed into a crayon soup not long after the crash… but kept hoping for ‘real’ powers.

When these didn’t manifest, she started working for SPOON in voluntary capacity. While doing that she discovered that Ms Amazing had retired, and was in an assisted living care facility in Baton Rouge. [Ms Amazing, real name Claire Shaw, had family in the area]

Candy [now age 20] went to visit, and found Ms Amazing suffering from early on-set dementia and advanced osteoarthritis. [side effects of continued over-use of her power to ‘boost’ her metabolism giving her super-speed, super-strength etc.]

Candy remained in Baton Rouge, caring for Claire Shaw, as her own family were unable or unwilling to do so. In process Candy gained a number of certifications in therapy and care and eventually wound up working for SPOON in a soup liaison role [although not directly]

After the events with Ashley resulted in her being fired, and her ‘reality tunnel’ being ruptured, followed by the events with Bernadette in “Hot Pink Mess” Candy travelled, looking for answers and exploring her self identity.

She wound up in Mercedes, after a traumatic journey, which resulted in a secondary break-through and the triggering/development of her ability to manifest temporary solid-light constructs, which are tied to her subconscious emotional state. [although with practice she is learning voluntary control of the ability.]

Uniform: Candy likes pink.. she never grew out of her ‘everything girly pink’ phase. She has the type of complexion that works well with it. Typically she will wear clothing in some shade of pink, from pastels though to screaming Hot!Pink! or fuchsia, although she favours the bolder, redder end of that spectrum, She does not have a specific ‘uniform’ unless you count hot pink biker leathers.

Candy also has a secret love of all things sparkily and/or glittery.. which she (reluctantly) suppressed when she turned 18, as she thought it wasn’t ‘adult’. [it’s possible this contributed to her secondary power development]

Qualities: Expert [+4] Organisational Skills, Expert [+4] Bureaucracy wrangler, Good [+2] Determined/tenatious, Poor [-2] Self-awareness

Powers: Average [0] Solid-light projections, Average [0] Person of Interest to The Powers That Be (although technically not exactly a power as such, more an affliction.)

Motivation: To Help. (primarily soups, but not exclusively)


Kazane Miyamoto -- She has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and short black hair turning a soft shade of blue-gray. She wears delicate wire-rimmed glasses. Her heritage is Japanese-American. She speaks English, Filipino, French, German, Hindustani, Indonesian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. Kazane lives in San Francisco, sharing a home with two other women. She works as a trauma-informed journalist and calls herself a storybearer. She invites witnesses to tell the stories they want to share about what has happened. Cheerful and honest, she easily forms a rapport with other people. Kazane has a male Siamese cat named Ayumu who accompanies her in her work, walking on a leash. After the Cascadia Cataclysm, Kazane collects stories from earthquake survivors in Mercedes, California.
Qualities: Master (+6) Journalist, Expert (+4) Citizen, Expert (+4) Jyomyoseichoku, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Needs Little Sleep, Good (+2) Shinto
Poor (-2) Nearsighted

The type of virtue practiced in Shinto religion is Jyomyoseichoku (clean and clear, cheerful, honest, and straightforward).

* * *
I have gathered materials for many sources in extrapolating the Cascadia Cataclysm in Terramagne-America.

Earthquake safety includes individual, business, and local government steps to cope with the aftermath.

This dotmap shows America's population. The original article has a link to a zoomable version. Here you can see the population superimposed over the earthquake hazard map. All of the biggest cities on the West Coast are in the high-risk area.

Earthquakes can cause devastating destruction. These maps show North American fault lines and their types. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a megathrust fault in the Ring of Fire. It is overdue for a megaquake and could go off at any time, causing a tsunami after the quake. There are tips on how to survive a tsunami. Historic evidence indicates that this has happened before. When it happens again, and it will, it will mangle the West Coast.

The San Andreas is another fault running along the West Coast, parts of which are also overdue. The ShakeOut Scenario is one roleplaying exercise showing the possibilities.

Look at the Ring of Fire again. See how all the faults connect around the Pacific? It's not one fault here and one there. It's a fault system, like a giant game of Jenga with us standing on the tower. That means an earthquake in one place can chain through the system, destabilize the crust somewhere else, and cause another quake there. It's sort of obvious when you look at the fault map, but I am just starting to see a few references to this possibility in articles, like this one discussing the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults. Earthquakes can go deeper than expected, too. Well, duh, it's all one Earth. California is poorly prepared for this possibility. Some cities, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, have made concerted efforts in earthquake mitigation; but others like San Bernardino are largely defenseless.

Here's a brief tour of the Cascadia Cataclysm ...

Rain City (Seattle)
The earthquake strikes at 3:58 PM with magnitude 9.2 and intensity XII, enough to bounce people and objects off the ground, total devastation. It lasts for 5 minutes 15 seconds. Even some specially reinforced structures have failed, and everything less robust is rubble. Roads and bridges are demolished. The death toll is over 14,000 and injuries over 30,000.

9.0 and above < 1 XI – XII great – extensive damage over broad areas, most buildings destroyed
IX. Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
X. Some well-built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundations. Rails bent.
XI. Few, if any (masonry) structures remain standing. Bridges destroyed. Rails bent greatly.
XII. Damage total. Lines of sight and level are distorted. Objects thrown into the air.


Portland
At 3:58:20, Portland has a 9.0 earthquake with intensity XI. The shaking lasts 4 minutes 50 seconds.

9.0 and above < 1 XI – XII great – extensive damage over broad areas, most buildings destroyed
IX. Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
X. Some well-built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundations. Rails bent.
XI. Few, if any (masonry) structures remain standing. Bridges destroyed. Rails bent greatly.
XII. Damage total. Lines of sight and level are distorted. Objects thrown into the air.


San Francisco
The earthquake strikes at 4 PM. A grove of redwoods in Muir Woods reduces the local earthquake from 7.8 to 6.8. The shaking of the main quake, not counting aftershocks, lasts for 40 seconds. The intensity is IX, with some damage to well-built structures and great damage to unprepared ones. Fortunately, San Francisco has invested heavily in quake-resistant architecture and retrofitting, so it fares better than many other cities. The Deep Old One holds onto the Golden Gate Bridge and prevents it from collapsing. She also blunts the tidal wave, which does no damage from the bridge inward, although the seaward beaches on either side of the bay still get flooded. However, in San Francisco, there is little low-lying land so the tidal wave doesn't have much to chew on anyway. The death toll is only around 200 people and 4,500 injuries, instead of the predicted 800 deaths and 18,000 injuries. For an earthquake that bad, that's quite low.

6.0 – 6.9 about 130 VII – IX strong – damage variable depending on building construction and substrate
VII. Damage negligible in buildings of good design and construction; slight to moderate in well-built ordinary structures; considerable damage in poorly built or badly designed structures; some chimneys broken.
VIII. Damage slight in specially designed structures; considerable damage in ordinary substantial buildings with partial collapse. Damage great in poorly built structures. Fall of chimneys, factory stacks, columns, monuments, walls. Heavy furniture overturned.
IX. Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.


San José


In San José, the earthquake is 7.4 with intensity IX. The shaking lasts for 40 seconds. Even reinforced structures take damage, and unprepared ones collapse in places. Some buildings shift off their foundations. Due to damaged roads and airports, the city is largely cut off from outside aid. The closest surviving city of note is San Francisco, but it has its own problems after a 6.8 earthquake there.

7.0 – 7.9 about 15 IX – X major – extensive damage, some buildings destroyed
IX. Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
X. Some well-built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundations. Rails bent.


San Bernardino
In San Bernardino, the magnitude is in the high sevens, probably 7.7 or 7.8. This typically correlates to level X intensity, with buildings damaged or destroyed. It lasts for 53 seconds. Much of the damage in this area happens due to poor preparation. Many buildings, roads, and other structures have not been reinforced at all, so they readily fail in a significant earthquake. San Bernardino has plenty of hospitals, but many are damaged, some beyond use. They are quickly overwhelmed with casualties and attempt to evacuate people as feasible. Some roads and bridges are damaged, but others may be passable. This is about as far west as the roads might still run.

Los Angeles
In Los Angeles the earthquake strikes at 4:01:40 with magnitude 7.8 and intensity X shaking, destroying many buildings. It lasts for 55 seconds. Even well-built structures are damaged, and unprepared ones crumble. They have many hospitals, and better retrofitting, but they still take a lot of damage and can't accommodate all the casualties. But so much of the infrastructure is damaged or destroyed that the only practical ways out are air or teleport.

7.0 – 7.9 about 15 IX – X major – extensive damage, some buildings destroyed
X. Some well-built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundations. Rails bent.


San Diego
The earthquake strikes at 4:02 PM with magnitude 7.3 and intensity IX. Even well-built structures are damaged, while unprepared ones are destroyed. Because San Diego has not experienced many strong earthquakes, a lot of the older buildings collapsed. Most residents live within 15 miles of the fault, resulting in many injuries. The earthquake along the Rose Canyon Fault extends offshore, creating a tsunami that reaches the city within minutes. Little of San Diego lies in the inundation zone, so casualties are not too bad.

7.0 – 7.9 about 15 IX – X major – extensive damage, some buildings destroyed
IX. Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.


Seaside and Ocean Shores
There are community clusters of tsunami vulnerability in the northwest including Seaside and Ocean Shores.

At 9.1 the shaking from the earthquake will last a little over five minutes in Seaside. The outermost edge of the beach has only 10-12 minutes from the START of the earthquake before the leading wave of the tsunami arrives. That's 5 minutes after the shaking stops. The first road along the beach is right around the 20-minute mark, meaning it has 15 minutes after the shaking stops. The edge of the safe zone is near or somewhat beyond the 30-minute mark, so it has around 25 minutes after the shaking stops. At 9.1 the shaking is so severe that it flings objects and people into the air. After 5 minutes of that, few people are able to regain their feet within 5 minutes after it stops. Many take 10 minutes. The beach liquefies, as does much of the substrate under the town, most of the way to the hills. Many people on the beach become mired in the sand.
http://www.oregongeology.org/pubs/ofr/O-15-02_allPlates.pdf

9.0 and above < 1 XI – XII great – extensive damage over broad areas, most buildings destroyed
IX. Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
X. Some well-built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundations. Rails bent.
XI. Few, if any (masonry) structures remain standing. Bridges destroyed. Rails bent greatly.
XII. Damage total. Lines of sight and level are distorted. Objects thrown into the air.

Mercedes
At 4:00:15 PM, Mercedes has a 3.9 earthquake with intensity III.

3.0 – 3.9 about 100,000 II – III minor – noticed by a few people
II. Felt only by a few persons at rest, especially on upper floors of buildings.
III. Felt quite noticeably by persons indoors, especially on upper floors of buildings. Many people do not recognize it as an earthquake. Standing motor cars may rock slightly. Vibrations similar to the passing of a truck. Duration estimated.


Trauma-informed care usually refers to physical and mental health care parameters. However the principles really apply to all professions that deal with traumatized people. In Terramagne-America, trauma-informed journalism is much better known than here. All reporters are expected to know and practice the basics, because it's not legal to harass or hurt people in pursuit of a story. Some reporters specialize in TIJ. Among the best ways to balance news gathering with mental safety is simply to offer a platform for people who wish to tell their stories. There are some in any big event, so there's no need to pester people who don't want to talk about it.

Storytellling is part of what makes us human and defines who we are. It's a form of timebinding that can help people cope with disasters or other kinds of bereavement. Traumatic stress can cause memories to fragment and disconnect, preventing them from integrating into the timeline of lived experience. These loose pieces then float around and make trouble. Storytelling places the trauma within the personal narrative, which has several benefits. There are instructions for writing about trauma, and for helping adults or children to tell their trauma stories. It often helps to place a traumatic even within the context of your personal timeline. However, there are also sound reasons why some people don't want to talk about trauma, and others must respect this choice. It often progresses in phases.

Cantonese cuisine includes many interesting foods. Enjoy recipes for Lu Shui Ya (Old Water Duck), Jiaosi Furu Tongcai (Stir Fried Water Spinach), Lo Mein (Soy Sauce Pan Fried Noodles), and Hong Dou Sha (Red Bean Soup). Most of those are straightforward to make when you need to feed the masses. In case you're wondering, Mr. Yue's master stock is an heirloom from his grandfather. Cricket Crunch Bars come in milk or dark chocolate.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

Leave a comment