ysabetwordsmith: Jump gate showing diamond ring of light (blueshift)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm getting back to The Blueshift Troupers a bit with this poem, introducing Avory. It fills the "telling a story" square in my 1-31-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest, with Avory telling his own story.  This is also for the Bingo Valentines fest over on [community profile] allbingo, exploring love of abstracts.

Title: "The Book of Avory"
Fandom: The Blueshift Troupers
Prompt: Telling a story
Medium: Poetry
Size: 553
Rating: PG
Warnings: Graphic description of an accident. Life upheaval.
Summary/Preview: A fall down the stairs tumbles Avory into a whole new life.
Notes: Love can be about more than a person and a relationship.


"The Book of Avory"


This is a story about love,
but not about romance.

This is a story about
the love of knowledge
and the love of the gods
and the love of space

and how all those things collided.

It started when I stepped on
a loose piece of paper
at the top of the grand staircase
in the graduate library

and skidded off the marble steps
into the unforgiving air

and fell two flights down
to land on a terrazzo mosaic
of the jump system.

I heard my bones crack
and saw my blood running
over the golden words
like a puddle of red ink

but I felt like
I was still falling

and then

something in my body shifted,
spreading itself apart
like a book opening for the first time,

pages whispering away,
their gilt edges glinting in sunlight,
the smell of paper like hay in winter
and the press of leather in ancient flesh

revealing what had been hidden,
written into me before birth

only now spilling out
through my skin
into manifestation.

There was nothing the medics could do
except ease the transformation;
my body folded itself away
into a cocoon of leather and gold.

When I woke I was whole again,
but my body and my life
would never be the same.

The university that I loved,
where I learned and taught so much,
could no longer hold me.

My body felt strange and new,
taller now, light-footed,
hair a shade more gold than brown
and I didn't need glasses anymore.

There were offers piled on offers,
because shapeshifters were rare --
it was like being courted by strangers,
flattering and a little frightening.

I wondered what use anyone could get
out of a shapeshifter who was no adventurer
but a scholar, a linguist, an ethnologist
who sometimes took scriptures at their word
and other times read between the lines.

Surely there must be more likely heroes than me?
Surely saving the world, or the galaxy, is a job
better left to people trained for such things?

Yet the offers remained, beckoning,
inviting me to try this job or that one,
visit new worlds, meet people
who had been doing this sort of work.

It was sweet,
sweeter than spring's first kiss
under drifting cherry blossoms,

enchanting as a bookstore
on the day of its grand opening
with all the shelves freshly filled,

bright as a night sky
brimming with stars.

It was all there, waiting
breathlessly for me
to say yea or nay

and what could I do,
what could any scholar ever do
but cry yea

and run headlong into adventure?

The heroes would need someone
to help them find the answers.

So I kissed my old life goodbye,
put away my love of the university,
packed up my books and accoutrements
of assorted religions and cultures,

made my heart and my hope
into blank pages for fate to write upon.

I cupped my hands under the future
and drank stars from meltwater,
danced barefoot on alien grass
and felt my body sing with affinity
like a harpstring resonating to a distant chord.

Call me priest or poet,
call me fool or wiseman --

I will be all of these things and others --

I am a shapeshifter,
and it is my way to change.

* * *

Notes:

Terrazzo is a composite material often used to make large colorful mosaics or pictures on the floor of a building.

Avory is a natural shapeshifter who grew up not knowing his potential, until a life-threatening accident forced his body to respond. It is a highly valued trait in this setting.

An unlikely hero is one who has not aspired to or trained for the role, but stumbles into it anyway. While more typical of the fantasy field, it also happens in science fiction. Avory, with his background in academic and spiritual pursuits, meshes well because those skills also don't appear as often in science fiction. He's lapping over a bit to more congruent ground.

The Call to Adventure belongs to the monomyth of the Hero's Journey. It may be accepted or refused, because at its core, the Call is a choice. Avory jumps headlong into it, even at the cost of his former life, because he's in love with ... potential, really, the idea of having a whole universe suddenly at his feet. He knows he's unprepared for it, and he's okay with that, because he's heard of the Fool's journey too.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-21 06:53 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I am constantly amazed and enthralled by the characters you create, how you make them people with just a few words, so vividly- it's admirable and every one of your characters is someone I feel I could sit down and talk to. You have a gift.

-kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-21 04:50 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Oh, I love this, and I wish I were he!

Yay!

Date: 2014-02-21 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm happy to hear that.

I wouldn't enjoy the discovery process, but yeah, Avory sure grabbed the gold ring on that one.

I'm really having fun figuring out these characters. They have come to their positions on the Omphalos in so many different ways. Lane, Jess, and Emersan went into the spaceforce on purpose. Zasha wanted to go where the need was greatest. Avory literally fell into it. Taylor was pursuing mechanic work and got an invitation to try out, winning a place mainly by being nice to the hiveship. Reilly was another accidental find. Chameleon was a rescue. So they have very different personalities and skill sets.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-21 05:36 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
I should not like to leave my belovedest behind.... but were I single, and suddenly ......... damn.

ummm, yeah. I think I needed that.

Thoughts

Date: 2014-02-21 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> I should not like to leave my belovedest behind.... but were I single, and suddenly ......... damn. <<

And did you not just recently leave one situation for quite a different one? There is no telling when the Call will come, or how.

>> ummm, yeah. I think I needed that. <<

*hugs* Then I'm glad I could provide.

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