Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Play with a Sense of Destiny"

This poem is spillover from the August 6, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] gingicat. It also fills the "outdoors" square in my 8-2-19 card for the End of Summer Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred. It belongs to the Dr. Infanta thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Play with a Sense of Destiny"

[Saturday, June 6, 2015]

Alicia tumbled out of the van,
already eager to explore
the new Destiny Playground
now open in Onion City.

Nanette followed behind
at a more sedate pace.

Dr. Carolina Fleer had
helped to fund and design
the playground for her children,
especially her foster daughter Olivia,
also known as the Numerator.

Alicia was particularly keen on
testing whether it lived up to
its goal of serving all ages,
levels of abilities, and
types of intelligence.

Beyond the parking lot
lay a big patch of pavement
painted with games, racetracks,
and other things. The uniquities
were big circles and wavy lines.

"Watch out for the barrier,"
Nanette said as Alicia ran
toward the line of pipes that
divided the parking lot
from the playground.

Alicia dropped a hand
on the pipe and vaulted
over it without slowing down.

She ran around the tracks,
played a game of hopscotch,
and threw beanbags at a target.

So far it seemed pretty typical.

Then she wandered into
the chalk art area, and it
stopped being typical.

Someone had drawn
a color wheel with notes
on artistic theory beside it.

Several little boys were
tracing each other, then
coloring bodily organs
inside the outlines.

A group of girls had
drawn ... something ...
in tape and were now
coloring it with chalk paint.

"I got a new roll of tape!"
yelled a black girl as she
ran past. "Now we can
do more hypercubes."

"That's a hypercube?"
Alicia said. "I thought
they looked sort of like
a square inside a square."

"We're doing that kind next,"
the girl said. "This one is
a hypercube star. See, you
block out the extra parts --"
She covered them with
her arms. "-- and then
what's left is a cube."

"Oh, I see it now,"
Alicia said. "Neato!"

"I'm Olivia. Who're you?"
the girl said as she started
laying down more tape.

"I'm Alicia, and this
is my nanny," she said,
waving a hand at Nanette.
We came to check out
your new playground."

Olivia pressed down
the last piece of tape
to finish the hypercube.
"Okay, that's done. Do you
want me to show you around?"

"Sure," Alicia said. "I already
read the website, but I want
to see everything myself!"

"We had a lot of fun designing
a playground for everyone,"
said Olivia. "This next bit is
the adaptive area, so it has
rubber ground and bowl swings.
But the climbing frame is shaped
like a spacetime wave with
a wormhole at one end!"

Alicia did not hesitate
to scramble over the net and
drop through the funnel
at the far end of it.

"Where the rubber
turns into a fake river --
see the rainbow? -- that's
the fairyland for babies
and toddlers," Olivia said.

Alicia stared at the weird bumps.
"What can you do with that?"

"Climb on it," Olivia said.
"It goes all the way out to
the climbing hill, but you
can't see that from here."

"Ooo, what's that?" Alicia said,
pointing at the structure ahead.

"That's the castle," Olivia said.
"Look at the rubber -- it has
a blue line for the moat."

Inside the moat stood
several gray towers made
of metal panels, with a ramp
connecting them together.

A log climber, a rock climber,
and several sets of stairs offered
alternative routes up, with slides
and fireman poles going down.

Alicia dashed up the log climber,
then jumped to the ramp, her feet
booming on the metal plate.

Olivia went all the way into
the high tower, then climbed
its ladder to reach the top
of the corkscrew slide.

Alicia waited for her at
the foot of the slide.

"It's a good play castle,"
she said. "It has crenellations
on top of the towers and everything."

"This is pretty inclusive, too,"
Nanette pointed out. "Besides
the ramp, there's a transfer station."

"Yeah, and it's a lot more fun
listening to a history lesson here
than in a boring old classroom,"
Olivia said with a laugh.

As they moved on to
the next section, Alicia said,
"You're really going with
the fantasy theme."

Olivia looked up at
the dragon whose tongue
made a tall wavy slide.

"We wanted to encourage
everyone's imagination, because
you need it for the science stuff,"
she said. "You'll see soon."

The next section wasn't science
but music, and the ground was
covered in a layer of wood mulch.

Among the climbing structures,
Olivia pointed out electrical panels
that would play music if you
pushed the right buttons.

Then Nanette found
the musical instruments
made of plastic and metal.

They stood at different heights
so everyone could reach some,
and their hammers hung below
the musical parts on long strings.

"Duet?" Nanette said with
a challenging look at the girls.
"Or shall we try for a trio?"

"Music is just math," Olivia said.

So the three of them picked out
songs they all knew and played
until their arms began to tire.

The next section, covered in
astroturf, held athletic equipment
intended for teens and adults.

"Oh, that looks fun," said Nanette,
but didn't leave Alicia's side.

Alicia have her a playful shove.
"Go on," she said. "Olivia and I
can race each other around the edge."

That had a track, part of which had
lines marked for sprints or jumps.

"We use this for lessons about
space and time, too," said Olivia.

Then Alicia stared up at what looked
like a wall made of giant wooden sticks.
"What in the world is that?" she said.

"That's the crochet playground,"
Olivia said. "Come on inside."

It was a vast, complex net of
colorful cords crocheted into
planes connected by holes
and long stretchy tubes.

Some were big enough
to crawl through, while others
were too narrow and instead
had a big ball at the end
that you could swing on.

The whole thing felt bouncy,
like the world's weirdest trampoline.

"Whee!" Alicia said as she slid
down one of the passages.

"Wormhole, coming through!"
Olivia yelled behind her.

"Wormhole?" said Nanette.

"Yeah, the crochet plane is
like the spacetime continuum,
and the travel tubes are wormholes,"
Olivia said. "The ones that end in
ball swings are the black holes."

"We're playing with wormholes,"
Alicia said. "That is so cool."

"Dr. Mom says that the world
is your playground and you should
play with a sense of destiny,"
Olivia said with a grin.

"I admire the way that you
worked in all these other meanings,
but it can still be just a playground,"
Nanette said. "It's very flexible."

"Some of it's less structured,
though," Olivia said as she led
them toward the nature play area.

"Water!" Alicia said, darting forward --
only to come up short as Nanette
swung her up into the air. "Heyyyy!"

"None of that," Nanette said.
"We don't have spare shoes."

"Splash sandals are in the cabinet,"
Olivia said, pointing to it. "You just
stick your socks and shoes into
an empty space, and they'll still
be dry when you're done playing."

So Alicia got to fool around in
the artificial stream after all.

The rest of the place was
variously covered in grass,
gravel, or sand with fixtures
made of natural wood.

Even the blocks were
sanded twigs, with rocks
and pinecones mixed in.

Beyond the nature play area
lay a big open lawn with
several learning centers
aimed at preschoolers.

There were stations for
science, weather, woodworking,
and various kinds of artwork.

The lawn also had giant toys.

Alicia headed straight for
a mountain of blue foam blocks
with which several children
were building a castle.

It went a lot faster with
someone who had lived in
a castle and actually knew
how to build a proper arch.

Someone had also made
a jumbo string figure by tying
different colors of cord to
a circle of wooden stakes.

Some of the fixtures were
semipermanent, too, like
the wire bead maze.

"Do we need to worry
about getting you back to
your mother?" Nanette asked,
looking at how long a distance
they had already walked.

"Nah," said Olivia. "I have
free range of the park as long
as I stay inside the boundaries
and keep my vidwatch on."

"That's cool," said Alicia.
"So what else is out here?"

"There are lawn games,
but only five at a time, so folks
don't get tired of them," Olivia said.
"Today we got Jenga, dominoes, chess --"

"How about a nice game of chess?"
Alicia drawled, looking at the pieces.

Olivia giggled. "I love that movie!"

"I'm surprised you've seen it,
considering that it came out before
you were born," Nanette said.

"Oh, Dr. Mom showed it to me,"
Olivia replied. "She said that
all Super-Intellects should see it
because it talks about what's a game
and what's real, and it shows how
to think about things we shouldn't do."

"Yes," said Alicia, picking up a queen.
"That's a very important lesson."

* * *

Notes:

This poem is long, so its notes will appear elsewhere.
Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, education, entertainment, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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