Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Perfect Way of Moving"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, inspired by a message from [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "make new friends" square in my 2-1-19 Platonic card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains minor symptoms of past trauma. It is mostly fluff.

"The Perfect Way of Moving"

[Monday, April 6, 2015]

Turq rambled through Bluehill,
enjoying the bright spring morning.

He walked to keep in shape,
to let the sunlight lift his mood,
to learn where things were in town,
and to be around people without
having too many expectations on him.

Mostly, it worked out pretty well.

Going past the school, Turq saw
a group of kids riding a pedal bus,
its cheerful green paint echoing
the grass that was just starting
to leaf out below bushes
still brown with winter.

The parking lot of the YMCA
was full of retirees wearing t-shirts
that read Silver Shovels. They crowded
around a flatbed truck full of saplings
and a pickup labeled Willa's Wild Flowers.

Already, daffodils danced in the breeze
where flowerbeds framed the driveway.

As Turq approached the intersection
of Main Street and Concord Boulevard,
he saw a walking bus of small children
shepherded by a handful of adults.

"Hey, mister, you wanna ride
the bus with us?" called a girl.
"We got an empty seat!"

She swung her arm, showing
the rope that the children held
between them, one ribbon handle
flapping loose at the end of the line.

"Where are you going?" Turq asked.

"We're going to the LIBRARY!"
the whole busload chorused.

That was only a couple of blocks
up Concord Boulevard, and Turq
often went up that way anyhow.

"Sure, I'll come with you," he said.
"I just won't come inside because --"
He still had a horror of being trapped,
but the kids didn't need to know that.
"-- I've got some other stuff to do."

So Turq took hold of the loop and
shortened his long stride to match
the little girl trundling along beside him.

Behind them, the grandmother holding
onto the tail end of the rope said, "Hi. I'm
Mildred and this is my granddaughter Millicent."

"Hello. My name is Turq," he said, ruffling
a hand through his signature hair.

"Getting outside to clear your head?"
Mildred asked with a gentle look.

"Yeah," Turq admitted. "Why?"

"Walking is the perfect way of moving
if you want to see into the life of things,"
she said. "It is the one way of freedom."

"What do you mean by that?" Turq said,
twisting around to look at the old lady.

"If you go to a place on anything but
your own feet you are taken there too fast,
and miss a thousand delicate joys that were
waiting for you by the wayside," she explained.

"Nana's right," said Millicent. "Cars go
too fast to see flowers. Look, new tulips!"

Turq looked. They weren't even open yet,
but the yellow buds streaked with red
were already quite eye-catching.

"Yeah, those are pretty," Turq said.
"You've got sharp eyes to spot them."

Back home, the flowers he and Ansel
had planted in fall were only budding.

It would be interesting to see what colors
they came out, because getting them
from a seed library made it a mystery.

As they walked, the children pointed out
more flowers, birds, and once, a squirrel.

The adults called attention to bus stops,
garbage cans, park benches, and then
the pedestrian bridge over Concord.

When they finally made it to the library,
someone in front bellowed "FREE BOOKS!"
and Turq was almost jerked off his feet
as the entire line lunged forward.

"Everyone stay in first gear, please,"
Mildred said firmly, pulling back on
the rope. "This is not a drag race."

With a little muttering, order was restored,
and they made their way to the cart of
free books in a more orderly manner.

The handful of children's books
quickly disappeared, but there were
still plenty of other books in the cart,
fiction and nonfiction for all ages.

Turq picked up The Body Keeps Score,
which seemed useful, then hastily grabbed
Missouri Off the Beaten Path to cover it
because the kids didn't need to see him with
the first one and ask what 'trauma' meant.

"How are you doing?" Mildred asked.
"I served in Vietnam as a nurse,
Turq, so I know the look."

"I'm fine," he said, looking away.

"I know bullpuckey when I
see it, too," Mildred said.

Turq huffed at her. "Well,
I'm working on fine, at least."

"That's better," Mildred said.
"It's hard to beat a long walk and
a good book for boosting your mood."

"Thanks," Turq said, tucking his books
under his arm. "I think I'll take a walk."

"See you around," Mildred said with a wave.

Turq stretched his legs, now that he didn't
have to pace himself with little kids.

It felt good to walk, to let the spring day
flow around him without holding fast.

He thought about Mildred, and
about Ansel's grandfather Conrad
who had also struggled through PTSD.

That wasn't something you could
just walk off, no, but at least walking
was a perfect way of moving onward.

Smiling, Turq turned toward Briarwood Park.

* * *


Mildred Auvenshine -- She has fair skin that tans easily and blue eyes. Her hair was blond in youth and now nearly white. She wears glasses. As a young woman, Mildred served in Vietnam as an Army nurse. After that, she struggled with PTSD, and eventually moved from nursing into peer counseling. She has four children, but due to complications from PTSD, she is close only to her youngest daughter and two grandaughters through her. Now retired, Mildred often volunteers in programs working with small children. She still does some peer counseling too. She lives in Bluehill, Missouri.
Qualities: Master (+6) Grandmother, Expert (+4) Citizen, Expert (+4) Vietnam Veteran Army Nurse, Good (+2) Bookworm, Good (+2) Crafts, Good (+2) Peer Counselor, Good (+2) Tough as Nails
Poor (-2) Nearsighted

See Mildred as a young nurse in Vietnam and as a grandmother in Bluehill.

Millicent Immell -- She has fair skin that tans easily, brown eyes, and long straight blonde hair. She is the granddaughter of Mildred Auvenshine. Millicent lives with her family in Bluehill, Missouri. She loves reading and the great outdoors. She also has a knack for balancing her interests in boyish and girlish things. However, Millicent dislikes staying indoors for more than a few hours at a time. She gets first bored and restless, then mischievous.
Qualities: Good (+2) Bookworm, Good (+2) Gender Balance, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Cabin Fever

* * *

“[Walking] is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that were waiting for you by the wayside.”
Elizabeth von Arnim

Local-Earth children have been stripped of their freedom to travel and imprisoned in their own homes. Even walking to school is greatly restricted from earlier generations, and correlates with skyrocketing obesity rates. Terramagne-America encourages and supports an active lifestyle with personal responsibility. If a child hasn't learned to travel at least a few blocks on their own by age 8 or so, people start worrying. Most 8-year-olds have been walking or biking around their home territory for several years and can handle a range of at least a mile, while the more avid explorers may range 5 miles or more. Territories tend to be much larger in rural areas than in cities, because cities are denser and busier. On the other hoof, once city kids earn a bus pass, their range expands dramatically compared to human-powered travel.

In T-America, the pedal bus is popular with schoolchildren old enough to ride a regular bicycle, as well as adults. It is similar to a party bike, minus the alcohol and other nonsense.

Community plantings benefit from native landscaping. Here are some trees, shrubs, and wildflowers native to Missouri. Brownse garden plans and landscaping guides.

In T-America, the walking bus is popular with groups, especially small children. One or more adults gather the children and lead them to the destination on foot. No special equipment is really required, but yellow safety vests are popular both for visibility and group cohesion. Some people like to use a rope with handles to teach children how to stay with a group and space themselves properly. These may have a belt, offset, or parallel design and some are decorated. Learn how to make your own. Preschool and kindergarten kids often take a walking bus to school, the library, the pool, and so on. This is a common way of introducing them to the town so they learn where things are. After a year or few of this, they typically learn to navigate on their own, first short distances and then longer. Here are some guidelines for managing a walking bus safely.

Read about flower bloom times.

Double Early tulips look a bit like peonies and are among the first to open. Monsella is a popular variety with yellow petals striped in red.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
by Bessel A. van der Kolk
Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives.

Missouri Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places
by Patti DeLano
Missouri Off the Beaten Path features the things travelers and locals want to see and experience––if only they knew about them. From the best in local dining to quirky cultural tidbits to hidden attractions, unique finds, and unusual locales, Missouri Off the Beaten Path takes the reader down the road less traveled and reveals a side of Missouri that other guidebooks just don't offer.

Placemaking follows steps to empower local communities. Learn what makes a great place and how to turn Main Street into a downtown destination. Bluehill nails it in general, and Cambridge Commons in particular. These principles are replicable without superpowers.
Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, life lessons, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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