ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem takes place in Terramagne, even though it came out of the very first Poetry Fishbowl on November 21, 2007, long before Polychrome Heroics was established. Over time I've learned to recognize different worlds and what makes them distinctive, so when I came back across this poem recently, I recognized it as belonging to this setting. This poem was inspired by prompts from LJ users Beetiger and Je_reviens. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman.


"Touching the Ties That Bind"


Once there was a boy
who saw the ties that bind.
To him the whole ghetto was a garden
of starlight and garlands, cobwebbed
possibilities, lovelace and need-knitting.

His family called him Cat,
though only his momma knew that
he played cat’s cradle with cosmic strings
and doodled figures in the margins of his science book
that no earthly equation could embrace.

Somehow he was never around
when the cops came by for a shakedown,
and his little sisters always went inside
before the drive-by shooters pulled up,
and his momma, she had a job
flippin’ burgers for a boss who wasn’t too mean.

The day he turned thirteen,
he stole a car and rode it joyfully
before leaving it parked (keys in the ignition)
where it was sure to be needed,
and after the pregnant lady had been driven
to the hospital and her baby saved,
Cat’s fingerprints were found on the stolen steering wheel.

When the cops came,
he let them walk him to their car,
and quietly teased apart the strand that
would have put them in the way of cop-killing bullets.

In court, his flashing fingers wove the lawyer’s wife
closer to the lawyer’s heart,
and with a spindle of intuition he tatted truth
around the judge, leaving
only one loophole
to slip himself through.

At Juvenile Hall, he walked soft through the shadows,
plucking up doubts like dustmice
and spinning them into long threads of possibility.
That night at supper, Cat saw Mouse for the first time
across the cafeteria and paying him no mind.
Mouse had his face in his plate
and hadn’t even noticed the new boy –
but between them hung a dove-gray strand that,
in years to come, would brighten into love.
Cat touched it with gentle hands, strengthening
the thing that slept between them, admiring it
as a wonder in waiting as sure as a cloud
in the silver light before dawn
destined to catch the coming glory of the sun.

When his momma came to visit,
Cat touched the yarn of her yearning
and twitched it out to trip the Governor coming in the door.
There’d be a pardon by tomorrow.
Cat told his momma not to worry, that his work here
was done and he’d be home real soon.
She smiled. That’s my boy.

Back at home,
Cat went on with his weaving,
making the ghetto a little richer, a little brighter,
and when things got rough
even for a boy who could crochet connections
all he had to do was turn one fingertip inward
and stroke that hidden strand
that was waiting for daybreak.

* * *

Notes:

Cat (Freddie Grant) -- He is a black boy with brown skin, brown eyes, and dark nappy hair. He lives with his mother and three younger sisters. He is currently thirteen years old. He has been arrested once for joyriding, and subsequently pardoned. His future lover is an older boy called Mouse.
Cat is doing the work of a superhero in the manner of a cricket. Although constantly working to make the world a better place, he is extremely discreet about what he does.
Origin: His power developed naturally during childhood.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Family Ties, Good (+2) Gentle, Good (+2) Old Soul, Good (+2) Subtle
Powers: Master (+6) Fate Manipulation
Limitation: Cat can only see and influence probabilities and connections between people. Objects, natural events, etc. are only discernible to the extent that they interact with people. He uses tactile and visual metaphors relating to textile arts in order to perceive and affect possibilities.
Motivation: To help people connect better.

* * *

Cosmic strings connect the motes of the universe together. The "red string of fate" is one conceptualization of ties which connect people who are meant to meet and help each other -- not necessarily lovers, although it's often reduced to that in popular culture. Probability in math refers to a range of possible events and their respective likelihood of manifesting. Human bonding is a physical and emotional process. Fate or destiny is the idea of events laid out in advance for someone, which may be difficult or impossible to avoid, or simply the path of least resistance. Destiny Manipulation is a superpower for perceiving and influencing these things.

Textile arts include all fibercrafts such as spinning, knitting, weaving, crocheting, etc. Cat's cradle is a game played with string. Tatting is a way of making lace.

The best description for Cat's work comes out of Judaism, even though nobody in this poem is Jewish, so we'll just have to make do with the cultural leap. Tikkun olam means "world repair" and covers both spiritual and practical acts intended to make the world a better place. There are also secular instructions. It's harder if you can't see exactly what you're doing, but it still works.

Needed this

Date: 2014-07-17 02:56 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Hubby came home with real-world bad news, the kind of event that's going to be all over the media in the next few days, and having something that /isn't/ unendingly miserable, selfish and ultimately futile REALLY helped my mood.

And then there's the fact that it's a great story arc, with a fascinating premise... 8-)

Thanks for posting this.

Re: Needed this

Date: 2014-07-17 03:18 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I like that he's the /active/ version of Aidan's talent. Aidan simply /knows/ but can't tweak threads, as you describe them.

And I love that he's developed the ability as he's grown up, like Aidan himself.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-29 03:50 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: A brown-haired girl in a gingham dress looking at the viewer over her shoulder. (Thank you!)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Mmmmm. Like [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, needed this poem. (Not sure why; it seems to be one of those days.) It's so soft and warm. Cat's well-named. ^_^

I like how narrow the focus of this poem is, how close it stays to people. There's something very intimate and trusting about it that's utterly heartwarming and hope-giving. He's very gentle indeed.

I'd love to see more stories/poems about him too, especially if they're along these lines with a similar focus on people and how the small things can affect us/our lives. (So often we say that the small things matter too, but the media rarely seems to celebrate them and I think you've got a great opportunity for that here. ^_^)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-17 04:56 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Hmm, and what do Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos think of this?

Hmm...

Date: 2014-07-17 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
If they're active in Terramagne, which is plausible, then Cat could be one of their chosen. Or he might belong to some other fate-weaving deity.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-17 05:22 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
I remember in Wiccan circles many, many moons ago doing Work to repair and strengthen the Web... I realise now it wasn't just the meta-coven, but the Earth Herself... Sadly, that whole thing went k-b but not before planting the seed in my head so I could remember it 20 years on....

Thank you!

Date: 2014-07-17 05:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad that you've had a chance to work with that energy.

I've done web rituals several times. I've also done a bunch more that were generally aimed at strengthening the world.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-17 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
This soothes my heart, which has been distressed of late by bad things happening to people I care about, and by friction in my chosen subcultures.

*hugs*

Date: 2014-07-22 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad I could help.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-18 06:25 pm (UTC)
thnidu: warm red heart on orange streaked background (heart)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
(Rereading this after Collarboned)

Cat is surprisingly mature for his age. Maybe it comes from his perception of others' feelings.

Anyway, I like him a lot.
Edited Date: 2015-11-18 06:28 pm (UTC)

mmmm

Date: 2016-11-04 01:26 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This poem is a hug.

A hug and a handhold and

mmmmm

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