Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "A Thing of Comfort"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "Sand" square in my 9-1-19 card for the Arts and Crafts Festival Bingo fest. It has been chosen in an audience poll as the free epic for the November 5, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl reaching its $200 goal. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"A Thing of Comfort"

[Monday, June 1, 2015]

Shiv tossed and turned,
but it was just no use.

Finally he gave up
and got out of the bed.

It was a comfortable bed,
but it wasn't his bed --
any of his beds -- and
that rattled him more than
he really wanted to admit.

Grumbling, Shiv padded
into the kitchen in search of
something to help him sleep.

"What's wrong?" Gray asked.

Shiv yelped and jumped,
startled by the voice.

"Sorry, I didn't mean
to scare you," Gray said.
"I just wanted to see if
anything was wrong."

He wrapped a gray silk robe
around himself and tied it.

Shiv was just wearing
a T-shirt and boxers,
and felt underdressed.

"Nothing," he muttered.
"Can't sleep, is all."

"Well, that sucks,"
Gray commiserated.
"What usually helps?"

"Tea," Shiv said as he
set up a cup of Sleep Blend.

"That's a good start," Gray said.
"Is there anything else? Would
leaving a light on help?"

"Yeah, maybe," Shiv said.
He'd stashed some supplies
in his luggage, just in case.

The microwave beeped,
and Shiv collected his tea.

Gray showed him where
to find the honey, at least
a dozen different kinds of it.

Shiv trudged back to bed
with his tea in hand, then
rummaged around until
he found what he needed.

"Wow," Gray breathed,
looking at the sandcastle.
"Your nightlight is amazing.
Where did you buy that?"

"I didn't buy it," Shiv said.
"I made it on the beach."

"Now I'm even more impressed,"
Gray said as he watched Shiv
set up the candles in the turrets.

These were actually fake candles.
Usually Shiv used tea lights, but
he hadn't known if Gray would
like fire in his apartment.

They cast a soft golden glow
just like real candles, though.

He climbed back into bed
and sipped his tea.

"How did you get it stick
like that?" Gray wondered.

"I used my superpower,"
Shiv said. "The sandcastle
started out bigger, but it shrank
when I pushed the sand grains
together to make them stick.
Edison had some glop that
solidified his sandcastle too."

"It looks so real," Gray said.

"I thought about pictures of
castles when I made it," Shiv said.
"I used my power to sharpen
seashells to carve it, to get
that level of detail."

"That's very clever,"
Gray said, smiling.

"I suppose," Shiv said.
"You don't think it's ...
babyish? The nightlight?"

"Not at all," Gray said.
"A nightlight is a light
that makes darkness itself
appear a thing of comfort.
We could all use that."

"Yeah, maybe," Shiv said.
The tea was helping, some,
but he still felt restless.

"Homesick?" Gray said gently.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of."

Shiv wasn't used to feeling
homesick, on account of not
usually having a home.

It had caught him by surprise
in prison, and then again,
after he left prison.

"Yeah, I guess,"
he confessed.

"Would you like me
to sit with you?" said Gray.

"Like that'll help," Shiv said,
rolling his eyes. "If you move
while I'm asleep, I'll freak."

"How about just until you
fall asleep, then I'll slip out?"
Gray said. "It might help."

Shiv took another gulp of tea.
It was almost gone already.

"Whatever, but if I belt you,
it's your fault," he said.

"Agreed," Gray said,
and took a book out of
the nightstand by the bed.
"Want me to read to you?
I always keep a few books
handy in case of insomnia."

Shiv looked at the book.
"Poetry? Seriously?"

"I like it when I can't sleep,"
Gray said, opening the book.

His voice was soft and warm,
like silk, or maybe Microfyne.
"My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old ..."

The cup tilted in Shiv's hand,
suddenly feeling heavier.

Startled, he sat up and
drained the last of the tea.

Then he set the cup aside
and rolled over, watching
the glow of the nightlight,
its sand sparkling faintly.

The words rolled over him,
a sound more felt than heard,
as Gray's voice lulled him to sleep.

* * *


'Twas a light that made
Darkness itself appear
A thing of comfort.
-- ROBERT SOUTHEY, The Curse of Kehama

Nightlights have practical uses in addition to emotional comfort.

This the sandcastle nightlight that Shiv made with superpowers.

3. Collected Poems by William Wordsworth
When you’re feeling stressed, take a step into the world of the English Romantics. Join them in marvelling at the powerful natural world – and take a big deep breath. Alongside W. B. Yeats and Edward Thomas, Wordsworth will always be one of my go-to poets; I find so much magic in his writing.
I’ve also memorised a few of his poems to mull over on train journeys, while beholding a beautiful view, or when I need a time out – I think there are far worse ways I could use up my mental space.
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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