ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the April 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] we_are_spc. It also fills the "flesh" square in my 4-1-17 card for the Month of Rainbows fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


"The Silent Devoted Companionship"


Reeta grew up in Figland,
an Indian ghetto of Houston
that clung to the fringes of
the nicer Indian neighborhoods.

Her mother was Indian, and
her father was some mix of
Mexican and American that
Reeta never quite figured out.

Both parents worked long, hard hours
and by the time they got home, they
had no energy left for a little girl.

So Reeta spent most of her time
outside, playing with the dogs in
the back yard. They all roamed
the Figland streets in a loose pack,
eating garbage or even raw flesh.

It wasn't great, but it wasn't
awful either, and she was
reasonably content.

Then the social people
came and took her away.

They put Reeta with
some white family.
She hated that.

They locked her in
the house all day when
she wasn't at school, and kept
nagging her to talk all the time,
and they had no pets so she didn't
even have any real company.

So Reeta ran away.

She made her way back
to the streets of Figland and
the stray dogs living there.

She ate what they ate
ran on all fours and
barked at strangers.

Reeta often wished that
she could be a dog for real.
She never truly felt comfortable
in her small human body.

Then one day it actually happened.

She went to sleep as a girl
and woke up as a puppy,
black with tan markings like
the Indian pariah dogs brought
to Texas by the immigrants.
Finally her flesh fit her spirit.

That made everything easier.
Reeta could run and play with
the other pups, and sleep in
doghouses without risking
humans dragging her away.

She didn't trust the big people,
not after the way they had treated
her. She might come close if they
had food, but she felt no desire
for their companionship.

If she had to talk to them,
she told them that her name
was Doghouse, and then she
slipped away as soon as she could.

Then a new dog moved into
the area, a bitch with five puppies
who romped and tumbled around her.

To Reeta's amazement, she
found that Aditi was like her,
mixed between both species:
a dog who thought like a person
and a person who thought like a dog.

Aditi was smart, and she could
talk inside Reeta's head. Sometimes
if Reeta barked too much, Aditi would
think Hush! at her instead of nipping.

She never demanded that Reeta talk,
though, or punished her for staying silent
the way that the humans had, and so
Reeta liked Aditi much better.

They formed a pack together,
Reeta and Aditi and the pups.

Reeta already knew the best places
to find water or food or shelter, and
with more bodies they could carry
a much larger share of supplies.

It helped that Reeta could have
hands if she needed them, although
she rarely bothered unless something
needed to be untied or opened.

At night, all of them curled up together,
their black-and-tan bodies seeming
to blend into a single mass of dogflesh.

Reeta was happier than she
had ever been before, and she
did not miss her human parents.

Her pack was her family, and she
had learned that nothing she could
get from humans could compare with
the silent devoted companionship of a dog.

* * *

Notes:

Doghouse (Reeta Wendelin) -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short shaggy black hair. She is 13 years old and semi-feral. Her heritage is mixed American, East Indian, and Hispanic. When Family Services discovered that Reeta spent most of the time outdoors, they moved her to a foster family. Reeta hated it because they rarely let her go out and they didn't keep any pets. So she ran away. She lives in doghouses, posing as a stray dog. She can talk, but tends to dislike and avoid humans unless they have food. She has been adopted by the superdog Aditi.
Origin: Her parents neglected her and kept her outside much of the time, leaving her socialized more by dogs than by humans. The shapeshifting developed when she was 11, likely as a survival trait.
Uniform: She scavenges for discarded clothes to wear in human form, but goes nude in dog form.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Canine Culture, Good (+2) Street Smart, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Human Culture
Powers: Average (0) Shapeshifting: Indian Pariah Dog
Motivation: Survival.

Aditi -- She is a black-and-tan dog descended primarily from Indian pariah dogs brought to Texas by Indian immigrants. She lives on the streets of Houston. She has adopted the superkid Doghouse.
Origin: She was born with her superpowers. One of her ancestors got the Super-Immunity from the Aegis vaccine base. That tends to get passed down, but it's rare for puppies to develop additional powers. When the human owner noticed this one acting odd, she was dumped.
Uniform: None. She goes nude.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Dog, Good (+2) Compassion, Good (+2) Street Smart
Powers: Average (0) Super-Immunity, Average (0) Super-Intellect, Average (0) Telempathy
Motivation: Nurturing her family.

* * *

"I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source."
-- Doris Day

Houston, Texas is a city with a high Indian population. In T-America, Figland is an Indian ghetto on the fringes of the nicer Indian neighborhoods, with small yards and rundown houses. Houston is known for having some of the best and worst neighborhoods.

Long shifts on a single job can cause sleep deprivation and other problems. Note that the poor writing and thinking in the correctional article proves its own point about the deleterious effects of long hours on workers in this field. Multiple part-time jobs have similar impact. Take a look at the problems caused by overwork. The working poor often spend much of their waking life at work, just to stay alive, which leaves little or no time for anything else including family. This is a key reason for the gap between rich and poor children. Exhausted parents don't even talk to their children as much, and they can't afford to be home much either. The situation is better in T-America than here, but in many places poor people still struggle to survive.

Indian Pariah Dogs are a type of street dog. Read about their history.

Oxana Malaya grew up more with dogs than with humans, and adopted many canine behaviors.
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