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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "A Celebration and a Consolation"
This poem came out of the December 1, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from jake67jake.  It also fills the "Yule" square in my 12-1-20 card for the Winter Fest Bingo.  This poem belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.  It is followed by "A Place That Makes You Happy."

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $0.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: ng_moonmoth, janetmiles, DW user Fuzzyred, general fund, pool

325 lines, Buy It Now = $163
Amount donated = $134.50
Verses posted = 76 of 97

Amount remaining to fund fully = $28.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $0.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2

Warning: This poem contains intense and controversial topics.  Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It includes getting dumped on a holiday, emotional turmoil, messy family dynamics, rude language, crying, upset children, impending divorce, religious discrimination, homophobia, forced move on short notice, worrying about money, reference to past miserable Christmas, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"A Celebration and a Consolation"

[Monday, December 21, 2015]

Curt Clancy chose to dump
his wife Dorcas on Yule
because he was a dick.

At least, this was the way that
their daughter Keira interpreted it.

"He's a dick," Keira said to
her wife Donne. "My dad
is a selfish, heartless dick."

"Shh. Little pitchers have
big ears," said Donne.

"Yeah well, tell that to
my mom," said Keira.

Dorcas sat on the couch,
crying into her hands.

Keira fluttered around
the kitchen, torn between
going back to her mother and
finishing the Yule cookies.

Her two youngest daughters,
Ruby and Agate, clung to her legs.

"Mommy, why is Grandma sad?"
Agate asked, lower lip wobbling.

Oh crap. If Agate started crying,
it could go on for hours -- she was
the moodier of the half-twins.

"Grandma is sad because
Grandpa hurt her feelings,"
said Keira. "I'll talk to her
and see if I can help."

"Hey, why don't we go
help out your brothers?"
Donne said brightly. "I bet
Adam could use a hand
larding up those pinecones,
and Clayton might like someone
to tell him which lights are out."

Both boys were ensconced at
the dining room table. Adam
was making natural birdfeeders,
and Clayton was replacing bulbs
that had burned out along
the strings of holiday lights.

With perfectly awful timing,
the oven buzzer went off.
Both Keira and Donne
stared at it in mute horror.

"I can take over the cooking,"
Violet said. "I can read a cookbook."

"I'll help," said Rose. "I can put
the done cookies on a cooling rack."

"Thank you so much, girls, that is
a huge help," Keira said, relieved.
"I'll go see if Mom has wound down
enough that she's ready to talk."

Mom hated having anyone stare
at her while she cried, so she was
huddled in the great room with
everyone else in the kitchen.

Keira tiptoed over to the couch.
"Mom?" she said. "Are you
ready to talk yet, or do
you still hate the world?"

Dorcas sniffled, wiping
her face with a wet hankie.
"Talk, I suppose," she said.
"I just can't believe he's gone."

"Okay," said Keira. "Do you know
how serious he is? Sometimes
Dad's just blowing off steam."

"He handed me divorce papers
with his signature already on them,"
Dorcas said, and sniffled again.

"Shit," Keira said. "Did you sign?"

"Of course not." Her mother
looked faintly offended. "I told him
I'd have a lawyer look them over."

"Smart move," Keira said.
"Any idea what brought this on?"

Dorcas looked away. "That isn't
something you need to worry about.
This is a disagreement between adults."

Keira's stomach slid into her shoes.
"It's me again, isn't it?" she said.
"He's sick of the family tension.
He doesn't want to keep dealing
with everyone else complaining
about the dyke in the family pond,
or maybe it's the Pagan part again."

"I didn't want this to come up,"
Dorcas said, but didn't disagree.

"Mom, it's nothing he hasn't said over
Thanksgiving dinner," Keira sighed.

"I know," Dorcas said. "I just wish
he wouldn't drag you into this.
It sets a terrible example."

"Well, that's Dad," said Keira.

"You said it." Then Dorcas
started crying all over again.

Keira passed her a box of
kleenex and patted her back.

Eventually the tears ran down.

"I really resent that Curt did this
during the holidays," Dorcas said.

"Totally a dick move," Keira said.
"I mean, he's my dad, but right now
I am completely ticked with him.
Are you going to tell everyone else
today, or wait until later on?"

"I have to," Dorcas said.
"Otherwise the gossip mill
will get to it first, and that's
not fair to the rest of the family."

"Good point," said Keira.

"What's worse, I need to find
a new place to live, because we'll
have to sell the house to split equity
from the mortgage," Dorcas said.
"The paperwork will be easier if
we vacate by the end of the year."

"That's less than two weeks,"
Keira said, frowning. "Not
much time to find anything,
even if it's the off-season and
most tourist places are empty."

Dorcas nodded. "That's my Plan A,
find one of the tourist places that still
rents in the winter. It buys me time
to shop for something permanent."

"Well, about that ..." Keira said,
nibbling her lip. "You could consider
moving in with us as an option."

She and Donne had already
discussed that possibility,
since Donne's mama Bernice
wanted to do the same thing.

Bernice had lived in a cottage
in Portside at Grande Dunes
ever since her husband died, but
she wasn't fond of it. She did
a lot of childcare for the Kallistos
and wanted to be closer to them.

"Are you kidding?" Dorcas said.
"This place is packed already."

"That's it exactly," Keira said. "We
need to move, soon. The babies are
outgrowing the convertible cribs, and
the flex room isn't big enough anymore.
Four girls in one room is ridiculous."

"So you're already house-hunting,
and it's just a matter of what size
house to hunt for," Dorcas mused.

"Pretty much," said Keira. "We
hope to find a house with wings,
either a separate apartment or
something we could upgrade to it."

"I'm sure Bernice will love that,"
Dorcas said, then hesitated. "I
don't want to get stuck babysitting.
all the time. I raised my children."

"We know, Mom," said Keira.
"Bernice watches the kids a lot
because she loves doing it.
Your job is to take them out
on holidays and spoil them rotten."

Dorcas gave a watery laugh.
"I do that, don't I?" she said.

"You definitely do," Keira said.
"Be yourself, Mom. We do not
expect you to do anything different."

The conversation lulled a moment,
and they overheard one in the kitchen.

"Okay, everything is out of the main oven,"
Violet said. "The venison stew is still
simmering in the Dutch oven, but that's
all that's left to watch. Rose and I can
keep an eye on the wild things if you
want to join Mom and Grandma."

"Thank you," Donne said, and
hurried into the great room.
"How are things going?"

"As well as can be expected,
dear," said Dorcas. "I'm sorry
to crash your Chr--Yule plans."

"From what I heard when you
came in, you didn't make
this mess," said Donne.

"I love him, but Curt is --
he can be such an ass
sometimes," Dorcas said.
"Sorry, Keira, I shouldn't say
such things in front of you."

"I'm a grown woman, Mom,"
Keira replied. "I love Dad too,
but I also know how he gets."

"Well, you've got other options,"
Donne said, looking at Keira.

"I mentioned that we're moving
and offered to include Mom in
our household," said Keira.

"I just don't know how I'll afford
to live anywhere in this town,"
said Dorcas. "Pastoral counseling
doesn't pay as well as banking."

"Then Dad owes you alimony,"
Keira said firmly. "You deserve
a decent place to live, Mom."

"It's likely to be a stretch anyway.
Besides, your brother Kevin is still
in medical school and your sister
Christina hasn't even finished
her bachelor's degree at Webster
yet," Dorcas said. "They come
home to visit when they can."

"If he tries to welch out of
paying for that, I will paint
free Deadbeat Dad cartoons
on people's garage doors,"
Keira said grimly. "The dick."

"That'd be a sight to see,"
Donne said. "If I'm hearing
this right, we'd need a house
suited to entertaining big groups,
even if it doesn't have guest space,
and we're already planning on that."

With two parents and six kids,
plus assorted friends and relatives
visiting, the current house was
already bursting at the seams.

They needed something with
more common spaces, and
not just more bedrooms.

Then the front door opened.

"Hello, everyone!" That was
their friend Brandon, already kicking
the door shut behind him because
his hands were full. "I come bearing
nondenominational holiday cookies.
Bernice is coming around the back."

A chorus rose from the kitchen.
"Nana! Nana! What did you bring us?"

"Behold the holiday carol common to
every religion," Brandon said, laughing.
Then he took a closer look. "Hey,
why all the long faces in here?"

"Dad dumped Mom on Yule,
which I guess is better than
Christmas, but it still sucks,"
Keira said. "I'm moral support."

"We're talking about where
Dorcas wants to live, since they'll
have to sell the house," Donne added.

"Do you need to borrow my pickup truck?"
Brandon said promptly. "It steers like
a barge, but it can carry a lot of cargo
over rough roads. I'm happy to help."

"I don't know ..." Dorcas said, wringing
her hands. "It's all up in the air now."

"We don't know how much stuff we'll
need to move," Keira said, looking at
Brandon. "Let's just keep in touch
about moving arrangements so we
can reserve your pickup if necessary."

Then she turned to her mom. "Brandon
does wilderness photography, so we
need to make sure he's not driving into
the armpit of backwoods South Carolina
on moving day. We'll work things out."

"Really?" Dorcas said. "Because
right now it feels like my whole world
is coming apart at the seams."

"Well, Yule is supposed to be
a celebration and a consolation,
a moment of warm brightness in
the heart of winter," Keira said.

Donne nodded. "It's a time to eat
because you know that the lean times
are coming when food will be scarce
and ice locks the land," she said.
"That's why we gather with family."

"It's a time to be happy and get drunk
and behave irresponsibly and wake up
the next morning in somebody else's bed,
wondering if you will ever feel well again,"
Brandon added. "Been there, done that."

"I know Yule isn't your holiday, Mom, but
what we mean is, you haven't ruined it,"
said Keira. "We'll handle whatever comes."

"Besides, this isn't as bad as the year when
I had morning sickness and everyone else
had the flu," Donne said. "That was worse."

Dorcas looked thoughtful, then nodded.
"Still officially the Worst Christmas Ever."

"But Agate was totally worth it," Keira said.

"So is Ruby, even though she crashed Easter
and Agate crashed Ostara," said Donne.

"Yeah, we made some awesome kids,"
Brandon said. "Definitely good genes."

"Any luck finding a partner?" Keira said.

Brandon had donated his sperm
to her and Donne for their kids.

The deal was that when he got
married, they would donate eggs
in return so he could make some kids
of his own. They even had some
left on ice at the fertility clinic.

"Not yet," Brandon said. "A lot of
gay guys don't want to settle down.
So far the ones who do have been
weirded out by my L-spawn, but
I'm not giving up my found family."

"You deserve better," Donne said.
"Mr. Right will be thrilled to join
a family already in progress."

Just then, Bernice rolled in
from the kitchen, with Agate
curled in the lap of her wheelchair.

"If anyone wants Paradise Cookies,
then you better hurry," said Bernice.
"The recipe only makes four dozen."

"All right, enough sad talk," Dorcas said,
pushing the kleenex away. "Let's go
try to enjoy what's left of the holiday.
Those cookies won't eat themselves."

"That's the spirit," Brandon said,
and led the way to the kitchen.

* * *


This poem is long, so the character, location, and content notes will appear elsewhere.

[To be continued ...]

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2 comments or Leave a comment
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: November 21st, 2021 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this! Especially the gem names (writing as the father of Amethyst and Emerald).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 21st, 2021 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that. I've sent the sequel to my parents, so there should be more.

I like gem names too. :D I also like twin names that relate to each other but aren't too easy to confuse.
2 comments or Leave a comment