ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the May 2, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] kyleri. It also fills the "sleeplessness" square in my 4-3-17 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. Despite being in a much better situation now than he was recently, Nebuly is stressing out over the changes. There is insomnia, depression, awkward personal history, guilt, fatigue, and other angst. On the whole, though, Nebuly is making great progress and has awesome family-of-choice. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"Morning Waits at the End of the World"


Nebuly couldn't sleep.
This was not new to him,
but it was frustrating.

He had just gotten himself
a place in the caravan, and now
he was panicking about it.

He liked Amergin and Marjoram;
he loved the vardo; he just didn't
know what to do, and that made it
difficult for him to fall asleep at night --
not to mention his prior complications.

They were on the road from
Meadowsweet Faire in Shaker Pine
to Breton Faire in Onion City,
taking a leisurely route there so
that folks could explore on the way.

Nebuly lay on his back
on the very comfortable futon
that his friends had given him to use,
wishing that he could fall asleep.

Marjoram got up and padded
into the bathroom. A minute later,
Nebuly heard the faint swish of
the toilet flushing, and then
the trickle of water in the sink.

Although he tried to be discreet,
she still noticed that he was awake.

"Can't sleep?" Marjoram said gently.

Nebuly sighed. "I got a little sleep,
I think, but not much," he said.

"Care for a cuppa?" she offered.
"I have Tasty Tea, Melodious Mood,
Peaceful Evening, and Gypsy Moon."

Nebuly thought about it. Gypsy Moon
was by far the strongest, but he didn't
want to rely on it. Peaceful Evening was
soothing but not soporific. Melodious Mood
was balanced between herbs for waking up
and ones for falling asleep. Tasty Tea
didn't do much but taste good.

"Peaceful Evening, please," he said as
he sat up. They could at least be civilized
about talking in the middle of the night.

"Coming right up," Marjoram said.

She went to turn on the teapot, which
was really some sort of cook-it-all gizmo
that she'd gotten in a Chinatown -- the controls
were printed with Mandarin and she'd had
to add sticky labels alongside in English.

"Thanks," Nebuly said. He pushed
the pillows around, trying to get comfortable.

"Would you like to tell me what has you
so tangled up you can't sleep?" she asked.

Nebuly looked at her, then looked away.
"I don't want to sound ungrateful," he said.

"Understood," Marjoram agreed.

"It's just ... I don't know what to do,"
Nebuly said. "I like traveling, I think,
the vardo is gorgeous and the futon is
a better bed than I've had in a while ..."

"... but?" Marjoram prompted.

"But it's not something I ever imagined,
and I don't know how it's supposed to be
when it's working right," he said. "I feel
unsettled, restless, like I'm spinning
and spinning and I can't stop."

"That can happen," Marjoram said
with a nod. "It sounds uncomfortable."

"I like the idea of being homefree,
I really do," Nebuly said, twisting
the blanket in his hands. "Only
I thought the way out of being
homeless was for me to find
an apartment or something,
and this is ... all different."

"It's very different, isn't it?"
Marjoram said. "It was for me,
too. I took a while to get used to it."

"I'm not sure I can," Nebuly said.

"Of course not, dear, you've only
been with the caravan for a day!"
Marjoram said. "Any big change
is unsettling just because it's new.
Give yourself at least a week or two
before you try to figure out how
you feel about all of this."

The teapot gave a soft bong,
like someone ringing a gong.

"Tea's ready," Marjoram declared,
and went to pour it for him.

When she brought the mug,
Nebuly rubbed his thumb over
the three pine trees on the side.

Amergin had a set of mug, plate,
and bowl with a bare tree on them,
and Marjoram's set had a tree
underneath a gilded moon.

When Nebuly had started doing
chores for them, they had gotten him
his own set because they had no room
to keep spare dishes in the vardo. He
had been eating out of a mixing bowl.

This made him feel a little bit at home.

"Thanks," Nebuly said, dredging up
a half-smile for Marjoram. "It helps."

It did, really. The steam rising up from
the tea held the floral-honey scent of
the linden flowers and a grassy note
of chamomile underneath that.

The taste of it was sweet, too --
Marjoram must have put honey in it.

"Shall I tell you what it was like for me,
when I first moved into the vardo?"
she asked, sitting down beside him.

"Yes, please," Nebuly said
as he took another sip of tea.
It soothed his nerves a little.

"I had known of Amergin for
a while, and one summer our jobs
at the faire put us working close by,"
Marjoram said. "We fell in love and
didn't want to part company again,
so he invited me into the caravan."

"It sounds sweet," Nebuly said,
"like something from a fairytale."

"That's how I felt for the first two days,"
Marjoram said, "and then I freaked."

"Why?" Nebuly said. "Did you
fall out of love or something?"

"No, but it's the first time I'd ever
made such a huge decision all by
myself. Leaving my parents and
the campus where I grew up, that was
really hard," Marjoram said. "I thought
for sure that I'd just ruined my life."

"That sounds like you had a bumpy ride.
What did you do?" Nebuly said.

"When we reached our campsite
for the night, I went off into the woods
to yell and throw things for a while,"
Marjoram said, blushing a bit.

"Did it help?" Nebuly said.
It usually didn't for him, but
he hadn't tried it recently.

"It helped a little, or at least
it burned off the nervous energy
so I could talk with Amergin," she said.
"He told me to give myself time to adjust,
that living on the road feels so different
to most people, they take a while to adapt."

"He wasn't ... I don't know, mad
at you or anything?" Nebuly said.

"Not at all," Marjoram said. "He'd
been expecting something like that
to happen, said it was common. He
suggested that I try sleeping on the futon
so that his presence wouldn't overwhelm
what I was trying to feel out for myself."

"How did that work out?" Nebuly asked.
He sipped from his cup again. The taste
was changing as the tea slowly cooled.

Marjoram laughed. "I didn't last a week,"
she admitted. "We really were in love,
and I got tired of using my hands when
I had a perfectly good lad right there."

"I'm glad that you got through it,"
he said. "I think that you two
are good for each other."

"We really are," Marjoram agreed.
"We want to be good for you too, though.
If you need some time to think it over,
we'll do whatever we can to help."

"That'd be great, if I had any idea
what I need," Nebuly said.

"May I make a suggestion?"
Marjoram said, leaning forward.

"Sure," Nebuly replied.

"Sit with the feeling," she said.
"You're confused, uncertain,
so just go with that for a while
and see where it takes you."

"Like how?" Nebuly said
with a frown. "I don't get it."

"Think about how you feel now, and
let it happen instead of trying to push it
away," Marjoram said. "Imagine how it might
look if you find that you love this life. What would
you do? How would you feel? Then imagine
how it could go if you decide it's not for you.
We'll let you off anywhere you like, if necessary.
What will tell you which is the correct course?"

Nebuly shivered. "I don't want to leave,"
he said. "I've lost enough people already."

"You're welcome to stay as long as you like,"
said a new voice, and Nebuly looked up
to see Amergin standing over them.

"Sorry," Nebuly said with a wince.
"We didn't mean to wake you up."

"I have a way of knowing when
I'm needed," Amergin said.
"Mind if I join you?"

Nebuly patted the futon.
"Make yourself at home."

"Ah, that seems to be the topic of
the moment, isn't it?" Amergin said
as he sat down beside them. "You went
through the honeymoon phase a lot faster
than usual, but that's okay. I promise
that the nervous phase passes too."

"Sometimes I feel like this is
the end of the world," Nebuly said.
"I tend to be more depressed than
anxious, and both at once is awful."

"Morning waits at the end of
the world," Amergin said solemnly.

"Was it like this for you?" Nebuly said,
tilting his head. "I thought that you
had grown up on the road."

"I did, so it was different for me,"
said Amergin. "I wasn't getting used to
the road, but rather to traveling on my own
instead of with my family. For weeks I was
afraid that I'd made a terrible mistake."

"Then what happened?" Nebuly said.
He tilted his head back and then
finished the last of his tea.

"I found my feet and had the time of my life,"
Amergin said with a laugh. "It's worth it."

"I want that to happen for me too,
but I don't know how to get from
here to there," Nebuly confessed.

"Well, you're new to the road,
the real road, not just scuffling,"
said Amergin. "Maybe it would help
for you to learn more about the life."

He got up to fetch his lute, and
when he returned, he began to sing.

"The white moth to the closing bine,
The bee to the opened clover,
And the gipsy blood to the gipsy blood
Ever the wide world over ..."

Nebuly leaned back and let
the sweet words roll over him.

As Amergin sang, Nebuly felt
a little less lost, for the song
was all about being at home on
the open road with someone you love.

"The heart of a man to the heart of a maid—
Light of my tents, be fleet.
Morning waits at the end of the world,
And the world is all at our feet!"


When Amergin finished the last verse,
Nebuly looked up to see pink light seeping
through the gauzy green curtains.

"Oh, nuts," Nebuly said. "I've
kept you up all night long,
and now it's dawn."

The guilt poured over him,
as thick and sticky as tar,
pressing him into the mattress.

Amergin's hand on his shoulder
somehow swept it away. "Nonsense,"
he said. "It was close to morning
already when I got up."

Nebuly looked at the window
again, and began to hope that
maybe there was morning
at the end of his world,
and here he was.

"I wasn't all that far ahead
of you," Marjoram. "I'll just
go start breaking camp."

"I should pitch in," Nebuly said,
but now the sleepless night --
or the tea -- had caught up to him.
An enormous yawn made his jaw pop.

"It sounds like you've finally found
your way to sleep," Amergin said
with a smile. "Let's not waste it."

His fingers touched the strings again,
and he began to sing the same song.

Nebuly lay down and let it carry him away.

* * *

Notes:

"The Gipsy Trail"
-- Rudyard Kipling

The white moth to the closing bine,
The bee to the opened clover,
And the gipsy blood to the gipsy blood
Ever the wide world over.

Ever the wide world over, lass,
Ever the trail held true,
Over the world and under the world,
And back at the last to you.

Out of the dark of the gorgio camp,
Out of the grime and the gray
(Morning waits at the end of the world),
Gipsy, come away!

---8<

The heart of a man to the heart of a maid—
Light of my tents, be fleet.
Morning waits at the end of the world,
And the world is all at our feet!

See the exterior and interior of Amergin's vardo.

Worth mentioning is that the variety is much wider in T-American faires than it is in L-American faires, although the latter have diversified more in recent years. What we have here are mostly generic English Renaissance faires, with some medieval, some French or Highland events, and a few pirate or fantasy ones. T-America has Renaissance faires of many countries -- which means they spread over that whole time period, because the Renaissance arrived at different times in different places. Pirate faires are enormously popular, and fantasy ones are well known. Ethnic faires often network with Sankofa Clubs, such as the occasional African or Egyptian event.
Meadowsweet Faire in Shaker Pine, MN (mid-late summer)
http://renaissancefest.com/ (Shakopee, MN, August 19-October 1, 2017)
Breton Faire in Onion City, WI (early-mid autumn)
http://renfair.com/bristol/ (Kenosha, WI, July 8-September 4, 2017)
Lyonesse Faire in River City, MO (late autumn)
http://www.stlrenfest.com/ (Wentzville, MO, September 16-October 15, 2017)
(This used to be a spring faire.)
Midwinter Faire in Bluehill, MO (early winter)

Depression can be a mental illness (arising from within) or a mental injury (caused by an outside force). Child abuse and neglect cause changes in the brain which increase the risk of mental issues in general. Torture is prone to cause PTSD, exhaustion, impairment, and depression. Insomnia and other sleep disorders are core symptoms of depression. Nebuly wobbles between insomnia and lethargy -- a hint that his body chemistry is badly out of whack. There are many different ways to overcome depression and to support someone through it. Learn how to cope with insomnia too. Partners or housemates can help by supporting efforts to improve sleep.

"Cuppa" is short for "a cup of" something, usually tea.

A health pot is a nifty Chinese gadget that cooks things in a kettle. This one has a fair amount of description in English. Marjoram's model comes with inserts for brewing tea and boiling eggs, although it can do a lot more than just those. The controls are labeled in Mandarin, so she had to add sticky labels with English translations.

Tasty Tea
This tea combines some of the safest herbs, intended for flavor rather than effect. It tastes similar to green tea, brightened with lemon and mint, but contains no caffeine.
3 parts nettle leaf
3 parts raspberry leaf
2 parts alfalfa
2 parts lemon balm
1 part spearmint
1 part thyme

Nettle leaf has a green flavor and lots of nutrients.

Raspberry leaf tastes a lot like green tea without the caffeine, and is naturally sweet. If you add your regular amount of sweetener, it may wind up too sweet, so be sparing at first and taste the results.

Alfalfa has a sweet grassy flavor high in nutrients.

Lemon balm is bright and uplifting.

Spearmint has a green, minty aspect that refreshes the mind.

Thyme is a savory herb that benefits the digestion.


Melodious Mood
This tea has a sweet floral flavor with a little spice. A combination of uplifting, soothing, and adaptogenic herbs buffer the mood.
4 parts oatstraw
3 parts lemon balm
2 parts rose petals
2 parts hibiscus
2 parts lavender
1 part jasmine white tea
1 part holy basil
1 part milk thistle seed

Oatstraw makes a nice grassy tea that is soothing and nutritious.

Lemon balm is a citrusy tea that is both uplifting and relaxing.

Rose petals are aromatic and mildly euphoric.

Hibiscus has numerous benefits including improved mood.

Lavender is relaxing for mind and body.

Jasmine white tea consists of white tea infused with jasmine. It energizes the body, promoting optimism and happiness.

Holy basil soothes stress and helps the body adapt to challenges.

Milk thistle is neuroprotective.


Peaceful Evening
This tea has a light, floral flavor with green and grassy undertones. It is soothing and relaxing but not soporific -- good for unwinding after work or as a very mild sleep aid. It includes nervines and adaptogens.
6 parts linden flowers
3 parts sweet marjoram
2 parts cornflower petals
2 parts elder flowers
2 parts lotus petals
2 parts mimosa flowers
2 parts red clover flowers
1 part bergamot
1 part catnip
1 part chamomile

Linden flowers are sweet and gently soothing.

Sweet marjoram is relaxing and restful.

Cornflower eases anxiety.

Elder flowers are delicate, aromatic, and adaptogenic.

Blue lotus petals are calming and enlightening.

Mimosa flowers are adaptogenic and promote happiness.

Red clover flowers can ease anxiety and insomnia.

Bergamot has citrus and mint notes. It relieves stress, along with headaches, nausea, and other complaints that can interfere with sleep.

Catnip is grassy and musky, a relaxing herb.

Chamomile is sunny and grassy, a gentle sleep aid.


Gypsy Moon Tea
This tea has a grassy, herbal flavor with definite medicinal undertones. It's a heavy-duty sleep aid with enough of a mystical kick to work well for most people with superpowers.
12 parts chamomile flowers
8 parts lemon balm
4 parts catnip
4 parts marjoram
4 parts passionflower
1 part American ginseng
1 part hop flowers
1 part St. John's wort
1 part valerian root

Passionflower is a strong sleep aid.

American ginseng is a potent adaptogen with other healing qualities. American Ginseng is "at risk" in local-North America but only "sensitive" in Terramagne-North America, due to avid efforts by wildcrafters to establish healthy populations. The Canadian Wildlife Scale is a useful measure of population health.

Hop flowers are sweet, tangy, and strongly soporific.

St. John's wort is among the best herbal antidepressants. It relieves low mood that can interfere with sleep.

Valerian root is a potent herbal sedative.

See Nebuly's pine mug. You can't see the raindrops on this one, they're inside the bowl. This is Nebuly's pine plate.
Here you can see the raindrops and pine trees together. This is Nebuly's pine bowl. Now it's the pine trees that are hidden by the rim.

Here are Marjoram's moon mug, moon plate, and moon bowl.

See Amergin's tree mug, tree plate, and tree bowl.

Itinerant living has drawbacks as well as benefits; one of those is limited living space. When I traveled, we had three people in an RV built for six, which was comfortable, so we could have a few extra dishes. Amergin's vardo is built for four, would be comfortable for two, and is a bit snug for three. They really don't have room for extra dishes if they also want decent cookware, which means washing every dish immediately after use. It's a nuisance, but it's doable. Nebuly has so little stuff, he appreciates when Amergin and Marjoram give him things, but he has no idea how precious the space is.

Dealing with difficult emotions is unpleasant, but suppressing them is worse. Learn to sit with a feeling as part of cultivating emotional intelligence. In T-America these are basic skills that most folks learn growing up. It helps in coping with indecision and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety don't just occur alone, they can gang up on someone. Most of the time, Nebuly has depression and Turq has anxiety -- their similar experiences hit them in different ways -- but there are overlaps too. Understand how to deal with this combination.

Hope is the sense that things could get better, even if they're bad now. Know how to cultivate hope and help a friend find hope. Amergin and Marjoram are very good at supporting Nebuly in this regard.
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