ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the June 17, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] thnidu, [personal profile] janetmiles, [personal profile] rix_scaedu, and LJ user kelkyag. It also fills the "Old Things: Heirlooms, Antiques, Nostalgia" square in my 6-1-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.


"Walk in a Storm"


The castle was old,
and even with repairs,
the slate roof rattled in the wind
and the wooden windowframes creaked.

The thick fog of evening
had been washed away
by the gathering storm,
the whole world lashed
with wind and rain.

Lightning flashed,
and a moment later,
thunder clapped overhead.

Adam woke up and began to cry.

The violent spring weather frightened him
after the snow-hushed storms of winter,
making him clutch the wooden slats of his crib
and howl for his fathers to come.

Igor picked him up and walked him
through the dark-paneled halls,
past the rusted suit of armor
that stood guard by the staircase,
and down to the first floor where
the noise of wind on roof was less.

Victor was curled up in an armchair
by the big hearth with a good book in his lap,
blithely ignoring the spring storm outside.

"Buh-buh-buh!" Adam said,
pointing at Victor.

"Yes, this is a book," Victor said
as he set it on the end table.
"Come and sit with me a while."

Igor deposited Adam on Victor's lap
and then stretched carefully.
The cold damp weather
made his back ache.

Something pounded on the door.

"Who could be out in this deluge?"
Igor said, going to answer it.

The door opened to reveal
a young couple, soaking wet
under travel clothes and
the kind of heavy backpacks
that some traders wore.

"We g-got lost in the f-fog
and then t-tripped into a stream,"
the man said. "Ca-ca--"
The rest of his words were lost
beneath an enormous sneeze.

"Come in. Sit by the fire," Igor said,
waving them into the castle.

They left a trail of puddles behind
as they went to huddle miserably
in front of the hearth.

Victor put Adam in the corner
and tipped over the coffee table
to pen him in place.

Then Victor grabbed a blanket
from the back of the couch.
"Everything off," he said briskly.
"We need to get you warm and dry.
Then we'll find you some fresh clothes."

The visitors looked skittish
as they began peeling off
their soaked garments.

Igor wondered why as he hurried
to gather towels and clean clothes.

When he came back, Victor was
vigorously rubbing down the young man,
while the woman had only stripped
to her underthings, transparent with water
and surely wicking the heat from her body.

"Here, wrap up in these towels," Igor said.
He could sympathize with her not wanting
to bare her skin in front of strangers,
but he didn't want modesty leading to
a worse case of hypothermia
than she probably had already.

As soon as Victor got the man
dry and dressed, he came over
with the damp blanket in hand.
"Would you like us to hold this up
so you can change behind it?"
he offered. "That way you can stay
in the same room as your husband."

"B-brother," she said. "I'm Piri.
Tibor is my brother, not my husband."

Igor made the introductions
as he handed Piri the clothes --
his own spares, because they
didn't have any women's dresses,
and that was something which
they should probably rectify
given how often people
came to them in distress.

Victor and Igor held up the blanket,
conscious of Tibor's intent gaze on them
as Piri hurried out of her wet underclothes
and into the dry shirt and trousers.

The young traders seemed to be
relaxing around them, albeit slowly.

"You're nice," Tibor said all of a sudden.
"We heard -- but you're not, you're good people,
I can feel it in you now that we're here."

Igor and Victor exchanged a glance.
"You heard something else ...?" Igor prompted.

"Just rumors," Tibor said,
"that this village turns travelers away,
it's not a safe place to stay.
We meant to go around it, but
then we got caught in the storm."

Victor snorted at that.
"Oh, we've turned away a few,"
he admitted, "who came here
to stir up trouble and harass people."

Now it was Piri and Tibor
who looked at each other.
"That makes sense,"
Piri murmured.

"If they find a village that won't
listen to their nonsense, they fight back
by trying to destroy its reputation,"
Tibor said with the nod.

"You sound familiar with this situation,"
Victor observed. He went to the corner
and retrieved Adam from behind the table.

"There are some ... people out there,
not very good people most of them ...
looking to stir up trouble as you said,"
Tibor confirmed. "We've crossed paths."

"They've hurt some folks who
don't deserve to be hurt," Piri said.

"Nobody deserves to be hurt,"
Igor said, frowning.

Tibor smiled at him then.
"I'm glad to hear you say that.
Things can get rough on the road,
even without foreigners
making it worse on purpose."

Igor wondered what it was
that made him like the young man.

They didn't know each other,
and with troublemakers afoot
that should have made Igor
more suspicious of strangers.

Yet something about Tibor
made Igor feel that it was
perfectly safe to offer him
a place to stay for the night,
that he was trustworthy.

Igor couldn't put a finger on it,
but he tended to go with his gut.
It had led him to Victor, after all,
and look how well that turned out.

"You can spend the night here,"
Igor said. "That storm is vile,
and there's no telling who
you might meet on the road."

"Thank you," Piri said.
"We don't have any money --"
She fingered a broken thong
where a pouch might have been
attached to her belt earlier.
"-- but we still have our trade goods."

"You're not obligated," Victor said.
"Are you even carrying anything
that might have survived the wet?"

"Oilskin packs," Tibor said,
reaching to open his.
"We trade mostly old things --
antique jewelry, outgrown toys,
some used books and such."

"We don't need jewelry,"
Victor said with a shake of his head.

"Nonsense," Igor said.
"You haven't any cufflinks."

Victor smiled, and it warmed Igor's heart.
It was hard for Victor to remember
that he could have men's things now,
after so long going without.

"I don't think we have any cufflinks,
but there are some pins
for ties or cravats," Piri said.

"You look through those,"
Igor said to Victor,
"and I'll browse the books."

Victor sorted through a tangle
of copper chains and bronze pins.

Igor looked through the half-dozen books
that Tibor unwrapped from more oilskin.
One held recipes, another prayers;
the next was in a language he didn't know.

The fourth was no bigger than his hand,
an old collection of children's verses.
Igor leafed through the pages,
then laughed and read aloud:

Victor the Duke of Savoy
was a very unlucky boy
who came home from the field
with a twelfth-quartered shield
.

The silly rhyme made Adam giggle.
"Is there an Igor in there too?"
Victor asked.

"Doesn't seem to be," Igor said,
flipping through the slim book.
"There's an Ivo though."
He flattened out the pages
so that he could read:

Saint Ivo of Kermartin,
A charity he's startin'
Here at the door
Just for the poor
.

"It sounds like the kind of
history meant for small children,
with funny rhymes to make things
easier to remember," Victor said.

"Take it if you like it," Tibor said.
"Not everyone can read,
especially in these little villages."

"All right," Victor said,
putting back the pin he'd chosen,
an elegant knot of bronze.

Igor reached over and plucked it
out of the jewelry box again.
"I'm buying you the pin,"
he said firmly to Victor,
and then turning to the traders
he added, "so you'll have coin again."

He could afford it.
He had money now,
although he wasn't used to
having such a steady supply of it.
Well, he'd get used to it if
that's what it took to see
Victor properly dressed.

The traders were grateful
for Igor's contribution,
so much that Piri wanted
to help him with supper.

"Stay here and keep warm,"
Igor said, shooing her
back toward the hearth.
"There's plenty of soup to heat."

At supper, Adam finished
half a cup of soup and then
squalled for his bottle,
so Igor had to get up again
to heat the goat milk.

"He's a handsome baby,
and clever too," Tibor said.
"You're lucky to have him.

All right, that was a reason to like Tibor:
not everyone was perfectly accepting of Adam.

* * *

Notes:

"You got to be willing to walk in a storm. That's what I tell people all the time."
-- Ray Lewis

Exposure is a catchall term for the negative effects of being out in the weather, especially when it's cold/wet/windy. It often results in lowered body temperature, a mild to moderate case of hypothermia. Know how to warm a chilled person safely.

Validation is a high need for many transgender people, and one of the top things you can do as an ally. It's a way of making up for the attacks on identity that most transfolk have experienced. Igor helps a lot just by accepting Victor as a man.

Cufflinks are a quintessential item of men's jewelry, rarely worn by women; tie pins are another, although they may be used for women's scarves or hats. This is the tie pin that Victor ultimately chose. Transfolk often struggle with the challenges of performing their innate gender, because they were not raised to it and may therefore lack important knowledge and materials. Victor doesn't have all the things a gentlemen ordinarily would, so Igor is determined to rectify that.

A clerihew is a short funny poem about a person. Here is a class lesson on clerihews. Read about Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy; and Ivo of Kermartin.

Tolerance is an important virtue for getting along with people. Know how to accept people for who they are and how to teach tolerance to children.

Mellow

Date: 2014-08-19 04:52 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Despite the implied differences between what they said and what their actions and appearance suggested, I think the two are more than middlin' honest. I just think they were set upon by another group of "merchants" rather than simply getting lost.

They've got a safe spot for the night, and the beginning of coin to pay their own way... More importantly, when Igor or Victor offer to take them down to the village in the morning, that will tell the other neighbors that they're people both Igor and Victor can get along with.

Re: Mellow

Date: 2014-08-19 05:43 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Pretty clearly set before Adam is walking, yes?

I'm just saying... that coffee table playpen would've been an invitation to CLIMB for both my boys.

I'd love more hints, and one last question--

It would've been 'safer' to pose as husband and wife rather than siblings in that time and place; why risk it? /GRIN/ Methinks there's another story in there!

Re: Mellow

Date: 2014-08-19 06:13 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Oh, I absolutely agree about the ick factor, but, historically, there were /protections/ for a presumed husband and wife pair that made it significantly worth considering /if/ they were in a dangerous area, or downright hostile territories (like being Rom in many other areas) simply as a matter of SURVIVAL.

That they opted to tell the truth, which was /less/ safe for them, is a significant show of trust and character. Either they prefer to tell the truth /wherever/ possible, or they are so squicked by the mere assumption of married status, or something else. Me, I'm betting on a combination of all three.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 06:16 am (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
I love the clerihews! Those are great!

Re: Yay!

Date: 2014-08-19 06:31 am (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
They sound really authentic, I think you did a great job with them. Yay for you!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 02:58 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I like this a lot -- I have a great fondness for homes that feel welcoming and, well, home-like.

Also, clerihews! I'd forgotten about those.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-20 01:24 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
This is actually a fun poem for me. I like some of the details -- Igor buying Victor the pin, Adam interested in books and liking the clerihews, Igor relying on his empathic sense to know truth.

You did forget to mention at the top which series this poem belongs to, so people can find the rest of it. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-30 06:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh! I'm glad there's more of this - my other favourites!

I very much liked how non-pressured the interactions were. Oh, and Igor buying Victor the pin. <3

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-30 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sorry, that was me.

~Anony-mouse

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 05:46 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
BTDT with the borderline hypothermia ... thankfully both times I could get warm under my own power... though reading that, perhaps the warm shower wasn't the best idea. Sure felt good!

Meanwhile, good wool sox ftw..,

Thoughts

Date: 2014-08-19 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> BTDT with the borderline hypothermia ... <<

It can range from mild to severe, and only the really bad kind is a serious threat if untreated, although ignoring any temperature drop is not a good idea.

>> thankfully both times I could get warm under my own power... though reading that, perhaps the warm shower wasn't the best idea. Sure felt good! <<

As long as the water is warm instead of hot, it can help. The main risks are warming up too fast, or sending chilled blood from the extremities back into the core.

>> Meanwhile, good wool sox ftw.., <<

Any kind of heat-retention material is useful if the body is still doing a good job of generating heat. One important dividing line between trivial and serious hypothermia is whether or not the body can warm itself. If the problem is losing heat too fast, all you need to do is dry off and cover up. But if the pilot light is out or nearly out, then heat energy needs to added, very carefully, from outside because the body can't warm up on its own. That's where blankets don't help. Another person's body heat is good, though, and blankets will keep that in.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2014-08-19 04:05 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
*nods* In both cases I was still quite capable of walking, though slowly, so the pilot light was definitely on, but I knew I was gonna be in serious trouble if I didn't do something fairly soon... good to know about the adding *slowly*, though.

*smiles in memory of something read* it seems that the opposite doesn't apply, though; the Icelanders and Lapps and such folk routinely soak in volcanic streams and then go jump in the snow.... :) (I am *not* that crazy! :)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2014-08-19 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> *nods* In both cases I was still quite capable of walking, though slowly, so the pilot light was definitely on, but I knew I was gonna be in serious trouble if I didn't do something fairly soon...<<

That's good.

>> good to know about the adding *slowly*, though. <<

In general, large or sudden changes often have negative effects. This is more of an issue, the less healthy someone is when it happens.

>> *smiles in memory of something read* it seems that the opposite doesn't apply, though; the Icelanders and Lapps and such folk routinely soak in volcanic streams and then go jump in the snow.... :) (I am *not* that crazy! :) <<

Oh, you can still hurt yourself with a sudden shock to the system like that. It's just less likely in people who start out healthy. But folks have died in poorly designed or managed sweat lodges, saunas, hot tubs, etc. What the hot/cold cycle aims to do is open the pores for waste disposal and then close them again. Done right, it's invigorating. The wider the temperature differential, probably the riskier it is.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 06:00 pm (UTC)
kelkyag: notched triangle signature mark in light blue on yellow (Default)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
Glad this got posted!

Yes...

Date: 2014-08-19 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Me too. It's a fun subversion.
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
Hypothermia: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007098.html

Heat stress: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007766.html

FWIW, Jim Macdonald is not a physician and can neither diagnose nor prescribe; he is a first responder in the rural northeast, although I don't recall which state, nor whether he's a paramedic or an EMT.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-07 04:23 am (UTC)
bairnsidhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bairnsidhe
Did I see Bat Vampires there? I feel like Piri and Tibor say things that are distinctly indicative of having run into people like Clyde and Alcot from the previous poem "out of his head" but that the hints would make much more sense if they were the primary victims of people like that.

Also, on a crackier note, when the two first show up and Victor tells them to undress to dry off and warm up, my brain went "NOW THE TIME WARP!!" because I am a dork.

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