Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Independence, Dignity, and Freedom of Spirit"

This poem is spillover from the April 21, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, [personal profile] readera, and [personal profile] erulisse. It also fills the "Talk with a Friend" square in my 2-1-19 "Platonic" card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred, [personal profile] technoshaman, and [personal profile] mama_kestrel. It belongs to the Kraken and Strange Family threads of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"Independence, Dignity, and Freedom of Spirit"

[Monday, March 30, 2015]

Genna glides through the security
with the ease of familiarity, despite
the grumbling bundle on her hip.

When she makes it into Hatter's office,
she sets the wicker carrier on a chair.
"There. We're back indoors, so you
can quit complaining that we had
to go outside for five minutes."

"What in the world have you
brought me?" Hatter says.

"Remember last week when
I mentioned the benefits of
adding animal therapists to
our program?" Genna says.

"Yes," Hatter says slowly.

She opens the carrier.
"This is Duauf," she says.
"He is a Sphynx cat. He is
a perfect gentleman with people,
but he hates the outdoors like
most cats hate water, and he's
not shy about saying so."

Duauf gives one last growl
and then saunters out.

He is a charcoal smudge
of a cat with a long line of tail,
huge ears, and paws that
almost look like tiny hands.

His huge eyes are the aqua
of tropical water over coral sand.

"I ... I don't deal with animals much,"
Hatter says hesitantly. "I don't
get outside much either."

"That's okay, Duauf has
enough experience for
both of you," Genna says.
"I know you're not allergic,
and anyhow, Sphynx cats are
among the least allergenic."

Duauf sniffs at the chairs,
then thumps onto the floor.

Hatter holds perfectly still
as the cat approaches.

Duauf tucks himself into
a meatloaf shape, folding
his paws in front, and gives
Hatter an expectant look.

"Let him smell you if he
wants to," Genna suggests.

Hatter holds out a hand,
then says, "Am I doing this
right? Or is this only for dogs?"

"You're doing fine," Genna says.
"Cat therapists are very tolerant.
You can pet him if you like."

Hatter manages to uncurl
his fingers, and Duauf butts
a pointy head into his grasp.

"I have no idea what I'm
doing," Hatter confesses.

"That's okay, he does,"
Genna assures him. "Duauf
is looking at your lap, so sit up
a little and see if he'll come to you."

Hatter obeys, and Duauf gives him
a solemn look before gliding into
his lap like water running uphill."

"Oh! He's so warm," Hatter says.
"I thought he didn't have any fur,
but he feels like fine suede."

"Some Sphynxes are bald,
but others have peach fuzz,"
Genna explains. "Now you know
why they live indoors -- they don't
have a coat to protect themselves
from sun or rain or anything."

Hatter wraps his arms protectively
around the cat, and Duauf responds
to him with a deep, buzzing purr.

"It's like petting an engine!"
Hatter exclaims, grinning. "Why
did I never do this before?"

"Well, you've had a busy life,
you like machines more than
live things, and cat therapists
also have some special gifts for
connecting with folks," Genna says.

"I see that he does," Hatter agrees.
"I admit, cats are more fascinating
than I ever expected them to be."

"Perhaps one reason we are fascinated
by cats is because such a small animal
can contain so much independence, dignity,
and freedom of spirit," Genna said. "Unlike
the dog, the cat’s personality is never bet
on a human’s. He demands acceptance on
his own terms -- and isn't that exactly
what we want for our children?"

"Yes, yes it is," Hatter said.
"Is this why you wanted
to add animal therapists?"

"It's part of why," Genna says.
"They're not just cuddly, they're also
very good listeners. That can help folks
who don't feel like talking to a human."

"That won't solve some problems,
though," Hatter points out.

"Not all of them, no," Genna says.
"Sometimes you just need to talk to
a friend, other times you need more."
She waves at the purring Sphynx,
who has somehow coaxed Hatter
into petting him. "Duauf is a friend."

Hatter smiles. "He is that."
Duauf revs his motor in reply.

"There are animal soups who
could be more, who could learn
more complex therapies and
apply those in different ways
than a human therapist would,"
Genna says. "I'd like to explore
those possibilities as well."

"I'm open to the idea, but
they're not easy to find,"
Hatter says. "The world
isn't an easy place for
people who look different."

"I know," Genna says.
"The laws can be vicious.
I'm hoping you can help
with some of that part."

"Of course," Hatter says.
"The Maldives has already
recognized some nonhumans
as people. Thalassia shares
that observation. However, it
can be tricky to determine
who is a person or not."

"I have some ideas in
that regard," Genna says.
"If we can recognize that
cetaceans have bubble tech,
there's hope for us yet."

"I confess that I'm fascinated
by such ephemeral equipment,"
Hatter says. "I watched videos
of it for days. Have you heard
of delpholuminescence?"

"I don't think so," Genna says.

"Dolphins can make flashlights
with sound," Hatter says.
"Cavitation makes plasma."

"Wow," Genna says. "I
wonder what we can learn
from those other species."

"I don't know," Hatter says, "but
it will be fascinating to find out."

In his lap, Duauf purrs agreement.

* * *


Duauf -- He is a neutered male Sphynx cat with a coat of black suede. Calm and compassionate, he is an excellent therapist, happy to sit and listen for hours. When moving around, he is quiet and graceful on his feet. However, Duauf hates going outdoors and is not at all quiet about expressing his displeasure. Genna brings him to Thalassia to meet Hatter.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Cat Therapist, Good (+2) Calm, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Quiet
Poor (-2) Despises Going Outdoors

* * *

“Perhaps one reason we are fascinated by cats is because such a small animal can contain so much independence, dignity, and freedom of spirit. Unlike the dog, the cat’s personality is never bet on a human’s. He demands acceptance on his own terms.”
Lloyd Alexander

1340 BCE: Duauf, an educational philosopher, cherishes the idea of learning and writes that the young must learn to appreciate books

Sphynx cats make delightful companions.

A therapy cat is trained to comfort distressed humans. Local-America typically does not train cats to perform specific tricks, and thus classifies them as emotional support animals rather than service animals. Terramagne-America allows for cats to qualify as service animals if they do specific tasks. They are almost universally taught to lie on someone and purr. Other popular tricks include fetch, high five, shake, and play dead. In residential facilities, they are often taught a variant of fetch in which they collect balls and deposit them into a feeder in order to get their food, which simulates hunting and thus encourages the cat to move around where people can enjoy watching it.

Fluid mechanics deals in the qualities of liquids, gases, and plasmas. Fluid dynamics is a subset featuring fluids in motion. The Navier-Stokes equations describe some parameters of fluids. Toroidal bubbles have some fascinating qualities. Dolphins play with toroidal bubbles, along with other bubbles, and humans can too. Check out some of the math. Here is a discussion about whether cavitation may play a role in dolphin sonar, noting that cavitation has a caustic effect on ship propeller blades.

Sonoluminescence can be created by tiny bubbles. Shrimpoluminescence is real, produced by at least two species in different ways: the pistol shrimp and the mantis shrimp. It's not even a superpower for them; it's a species standard. When I started imagining what kind of technology cetaceans might use, I looked for things they were already doing, then searched out related aspects, and finally imagined how that would look if turned into something productive or entertaining. Research into delphine sonoluminescence has been proposed. A few references to what dolphins can do with sound, light, and bubbles have been made but are difficult to track down. These really are fields that humans don't understand very well yet, especially in comparison to solid physics such as metallurgy.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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