ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," and "Green Eggs and Hulk."  

Fandom: The Avengers, Hulk
Characters: Hulk, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, Phil Coulson, Betty Ross.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Past abuse. Canon-typical violence. Bruce and Hulk have a relationship that is currently somewhere between self-harm and domestic abuse depending how you look at it.
Summary: Hulk muses about the sources of his inner strength.
Notes: Communication issues. Rejection. Courage. Team as family. Friendship. Acceptance. Hope. Nonsexual ageplay. Nonsexual intimacy. Love. Hulk needs a hug. Bruce Banner needs a hug. #coulsonlives.

Based on feedback for "Saudades," I'm posting the whole poem at once. It's not critical to the storyline, so you can skip it without losing track of anything major; it just gives an inside view of Hulk's experiences on the run and with the introduction of game night. This poem also fills the "language and translation" square in my 1-2-14 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo  fest.

See the next story, "Am I Not."


Hulk understands
more than he speaks.

There is a place inside themselves,
somewhere between Bruce and Hulk,
that they can share some things.

Hulk can stand on the edge of it
and catch the meaning of words
that he could not grasp
all on his own.

Querencia is a memory
of home as it was,
and will never be again:
what he yearned to
but could not protect.

It is, too, a hope
of home as it could be:
a place to feel secure,
to rest and renew themselves.

This is what sustains Hulk
while they are on the run,
while he is always running
to keep Bruce safe.

Someday, Hulk thinks,
no more running.
It feels good to think that.

Querencia is paradise,
a place for speaking the deepest beliefs.

Bruce's beliefs are thick here,
layered like beautiful stones,
all full of science and confidence.

Hulk likes to come here and look at them.
His own beliefs twine between them like vines,
grow over their curves like moss:
Love. Hope. Strength. Protection.

When the bad men come to hurt them --
when all Bruce can think is, Why?
when all Hulk can think is, Smash! --
this little corner of heaven yet remains,
inviolate and vibrant.

No matter how bad it gets,
those hunters always go away in the end,
and paradise is still there.

Querencia is self-awareness.
This is a Hulk thing,
and not a Bruce thing,
for Bruce does not like
to look into himself as Hulk does.

Hulk looks in and down,
in and down, as if
their mind is a deep lake
and he wants to see the bottom.

He wants to know himself,
because if he knows himself,
then he can know others --

know how they feel
and what they will do
before they do it.

Then something strange happens:

Bruce begins to look in and down too.
He is not looking for himself,
he is looking for calm,
and when he sees Hulk's face
in the lake of their mind,
at first he recoils.

Bruce comes back, though,
again and again,
always looking for calm.

It takes a long time,
but he begins to find it.

Sometimes, when Bruce
reaches deep enough,
Hulk can feel him

and for a little while
they are together inside,
you and I becoming we.

In this place where they are
their most authentic selves,
they can start to know each other.

Querencia is the center
from which all energy emerges,
the gathering point of power.

They go a bullfight, once,
neither of them wanting to go
but there is a man
and there is money
and they have need,
so they go.

It is ugly and brutish
and they try not to watch much,
but they see things anyway.

The bull finds a place
within the bloody, dusty ring
where he can stand fast
and balance himself,
catch his breath for a fresh charge --

and when he rushes forward,
he hooks the matador with a horn
and flings him into the air.

Bruce vaults over the wooden fence
without thought or hesitation,
all instinct driving him
to help the crumpled man
whose life is pumping into the dust.

Hulk lets him work.
This is not Hulk's job.
Hulk's eyes are all for the bull
in case he needs to come out
and keep Bruce safe

but the bull is done with this
standing bloody and unbowed
with the cruel barbs dangling
from his black shoulders.

The bull has won,
who almost never wins,
and so the handlers open the gate
to let him out of the pen of death.

It is Bruce who saves the matador,
although the man will never fight again.
It is Hulk who remembers the bull
and how he made so stern a stand.

They have, each of them,
his own center, but
sometimes the two align.

When an end comes to the running,
it is like nothing either of them
had ever imagined:

there is a little girl
and a window,

a slim woman who is fierce
but holds inside her
a little girl, trembling.

Bruce remembers the bullfight
and the cruel game
with its planned conclusion,
but Hulk remembers the bull
and the power of querencia.

The woman is not expecting this
and she is thrown off her game by it.

The Chitauri, when they come,
have no concept of it

and Bruce calls Hulk this time,
draws him into the centerpoint
where they sink their feet into the street
and drive their fist into the dragon's face
so that it crumples like a soda can.

Querencia is a sanctuary,
a refuge that makes them feel safe.

It is offered first to Bruce,
but Hulk can come along for the ride --
come to the tower, to a whole floor
made warm and welcoming;
come to the kitchen, to an oven
that smells of fresh-baked bread.

Come to game night, come,
Tony's hand tugging them along
even though they drag their feet;
he is gentle yet insistent,
and in the end they follow him.

Bruce feels conspicuous
and out of sorts here
but Hulk knows how to soothe him.
Hulk finds a hiding place,
and at first it is too small for comfort
but later it is bigger and they love it.

It has been so long
that they have almost forgotten
what it feels like to be safe,
but Uncle Phil reminds them.

Querencia is a warmth
like a campfire on a cold night,
coals in the shape of a woman's name,
crackle like her dark hair after a storm.

It is the wanting place,
and yes, Hulk wants.

Sometimes Hulk and Bruce
want the same things,
the same person.

Betty is good for them both
in ways that Hulk can feel
but not describe,

a deep soothing heat of desire
that melts away the cold fear inside
and replaces it with love.

Betty is the only person
who does not flinch away
when their eyes flash green --
because she wants all of them --

and oh, Hulk wants to be wanted.

Querencia is a source of strength,
the place from which the power flows
like sweet water bubbling up
from under the stones.

Hulk is strongest.

He is strongest not just
because of his muscles
but because this --

his understanding of querencia,
his ability to find it wherever he goes,
so that he always has firm ground to stand upon.

There is a place, though,
where Hulk does not go,
although it is the strongest of all --

the place where, if he could
only stand there for one moment
he would be stronger than ever before.

For Hulk, querencia
lies somewhere inside Bruce's heart.
Hulk knows that he is not
welcome there yet --

but he can see it from here.

* * *


Querencia -- (n.) a place from which your strength is drawn, where your feel at home; the place where you feel your most authentic self.

Multiplicity is the state of having two or more people sharing one body. The comic "MPD for You and Me" does a good job of explaining.

The Incredible Hulk shows Bruce-and-Hulk on the run.

Child neglect and abuse cause a lot of problems. Bruce-and-Hulk hurt themselves and each other mostly because they never had a chance to learn better coping methods or relationship skills.

Self-awareness is the ability to know yourself, on various levels. Know the signs of low self-awareness and how to improve it.

Emotional intelligence is a broad capacity to understand and use feelings. There are ways of raising EQ. Intrapersonal intelligence is a subset of this. Know how to boost your intrapersonal intelligence. In this area, Hulk is strong and Bruce is weak.

Calm is a good habit. Understand how to be calm. Bruce has worked his tail off to develop this skill.

Bullfighting is commonly mentioned in context of querencia, as it is dangerous if the bull discovers a calm source of strength. On the rare occasions when a bull defeats a matador, it is customary to let the bull live and retire him for stud.

Thanks to [personal profile] redsixwing for reminding me to link "Invictus" as one of the inspirations for this poem.

The Avengers features the meeting between Bruce Banner and Black Widow, along with the fight against the Chitauri.

Switching is the process of changing who is in front, controlling the body. At first, Bruce-and-Hulk switch only on instinct. Later, Bruce develops a habit of "sitting on" Hulk to discourage him from coming out, while Hulk learns to shove Bruce out of the way on purpose during an emergency. Only in very recent times have they begun learning the kind of cooperation required for a mutually agreed switch -- and it's much less stressful on both of them.

Children need security. Abuse erodes that feeling of safety, often creating problems which may be permanent unless a lot of work is done to fix them. It's important to distinguish between feeling safe and being safe. A good therapist can help someone feel safe, and you can see Uncle Phil using some of the same techniques to establish game night as safe space. Think about how to create a feeling of security for yourself and what things help you feel safe.

Most people need people in order to feel happy. Wanting to be wanted and needing to be needed are common feelings, especially for Helper type people.

Feeling unwelcome and fear of intimacy make it difficult to connect with anyone. Bruce-and-Hulk have problems with this. There are ways to increase emotional intimacy. Boundaries are vital to a healthy relationship, and you should know how to respect them. Bruce-and-Hulk begin with terrible boundaries but they are gradually getting better. Sadly Bruce has no clue how hard Hulk works to respect his boundaries now, and as a result is trampling all over Hulk.

Earning trust after someone has been abused can be very difficult. There are tips on deciding who to trust after abuse. Understand how abused children can learn how to trust adults, and compare with the process for gaining the trust of an abused pet. Also challenging is convincing someone to trust you again after you have hurt them. These factors apply both to Bruce and Hulk. There are ways of building trust.


One long drink--

Date: 2014-05-02 06:03 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I just couldn't stop reading, taking it all in as one long drink of water, fluid shifting and testing even as it settled. It's not done, not digested, but it /needed/ to flow all at once, in order to find my own querencia.


(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-02 09:59 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
I really like this.


Date: 2014-05-02 12:22 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
hi, i am Phil_coulson from ao3, i have not commented on anything here yet, tho i have faithfully read all of your love is for children series. but something about this piece made me want to comment. it is beautiful, it is a wonderful way to show how bruce has come to accept hulk even when hulk wanted acceptance before bruce was able to accept him... i think.. :)
keep up the good work

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-02 03:42 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Oh, this one is absolutely lovely. The last stanza gave me chills. (So did the middle, and the one about Betty, and..)

Callout to Invictus? Good choice; Hulk has a lot of that feeling, and the victorious bull is an interesting choice of inspiration for him, in unlikeliness and power and being just done with it, all.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-02 07:24 pm (UTC)
snippy: Lego me holding book (Default)
From: [personal profile] snippy
I actually love that it's not finished, the relationship Hulk and Bruce are grappling and groping their way towards. I love the hopefulness of seeing that place, a future place where they can stand together.


Date: 2014-05-03 02:50 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've really been enjoying all of your works. I particularly like how for this piece and the previous one you used an unfamiliar word as the centerpiece. Over the course of the work, you do a wonderful job of showing the meaning of the word, which echoes hauntingly throughout the piece. I'm looking forward to the next update Monday :) I'm so glad you update so regularly.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-03 05:04 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow. That was wonderful. I was so overcome that I burst into tears at the end. Thank you for this!!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-04 03:56 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Definitely works better whole -- I tend to put off reading your microfunded epics until they're finished and I can read them all at once.

I feel a lot of empathy for Bruce/Hulk. Wait -- did I just use "feel" in a sentence about myself? Unusual. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 05:42 am (UTC)
silver_gull: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silver_gull
Love the line about the bull standing bloody and unbowed. Very appropriate.

Ace-fan from AO3

Date: 2014-05-06 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really like this one. Usually I'm not too fond of poetry, but this one really works as a way to express Hulk's feelings. Especially the bull fight part. I really really love the ending, with Hulk's strength not just being his physical strength, but also his self-awareness and emotional understanding. And that he can see hope in his relationship with Bruce... Yay! The final few lines are really awesome.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-12 05:31 pm (UTC)
natf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] natf
/like ♥


Date: 2014-05-13 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really enjoyed this piece. I like the repeating format. And the way that you can see Bruce and Hulk gradually coming together. They having found peace with each other yet, but you can see that it is feasible by the end.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-27 10:59 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
This is good.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-09-17 05:40 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I just re-read this, and it made me cry, in a good way. I'm still looking for my place to stand.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-09-01 10:12 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Now that I've seen some meaning, I can begin to express querencia properly. Ah, words, how I love the way you shape and are shaped in minds of all kinds.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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