Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Shadows on the Wall"

This poem is spillover from the December 4, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] kelkyag. It also fills the "Summer School" square in my 12-1-18 card for the Summer in December Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Monster House series.

"The Shadows on the Wall"

It's July, and the kids
have both signed up for
Masks of the Past, a program
that teaches theatrical arts
and history together.

In the mornings,
they make masks of
historical figures from
paper, aluminum foil,
plaster, papier maché,
and even sculpted leather.

I admit the death masks
that they use for inspiration
are more than a little creepy.

In the afternoons,
they study history
and historical figures
from different cultures
and time periods.

They use this
to write short plays,
rehearsing them and
critiquing each other.

In the evenings,
they set the stage
in a park pavilion and
perform their plays
for proud parents.

Some of them
are even good at it.

At night,
we go home to
a world of our own,
an alternate reality
where monsters are
members of our family.

We light candles
all around the house.

The lurking shadow
invites friends and kin
to come visit us.

They're old things,
the shadowfolk.

They've been around
forever, always present
but never noticed.

No matter how secret
the meeting may have been,
the shadows on the wall
have seen it all.

Now they dance on
our living room walls,
retelling history in

The television
sits alone, dark and
forgotten, as the walls
come alive with scenes
from other times.

Samurai and crusaders
march between the windows,
politicians give silent speeches,
and great inventions take flight.

It's a whole different world,
and we love it for what it is.

In the morning, the kids
bounce out of their beds,
excited to begin the adventure.

Today, they're making shadow puppets.

* * *


When I was little, up through grade school, summer school was for nerds. It was the one time of year we actually got to learn something. The rest of the time we just sat there and pretended to listen to people presenting stuff we'd known for years. By the time I was in junior high, though, everything had changed. Summer school was for idiots. It repeated things they hadn't learned during the regular school year. In this poem, I use summer school in the first sense.

Masks have a deep history. They can be used to remember the dead or reveal aspects of identity.

Masks can be made out of paper, aluminum foil, plaster, papier maché, leather, and other things. Explore some mask crafts.

Plays have their own history and often present history on stage. Roleplaying is closely related.

Making plays can touch on history too. Playwriting can be taught. Here are some tips on how to write plays. This handbook shows teachers how to present playwriting.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, entertainment, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, history, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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