ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 21, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer and also the (graphic) artwork of Yung Cheng Lin. It also fills the "dramatic proposal" square in my 6-1-15 card for the June Relationship Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by LJ user Book_worm5. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series, and it follows "Touching the Ties That Bind."

WARNING: This poem includes content that many readers may find disturbing. Highlight to read more detailed warnings, some of which are spoilers. Graphic depiction of psychological abuse to the extent of empathic mindrape. Also cutting someone else's (admittedly toxic) emotional ties without first asking permission. But it has a basically happy ending. If theses are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding whether you want to read this one.


At first she is flattered when he proposes
that they move in together so soon
after meeting, that it must be
love at first sight.

It is wonderful for a month.

Then he begins to draw her away
from her friends and family.

It's fate, he tells her,
his almond eyes intense
as he relates the legend
of the red thread.

Soon each kiss feels like
the sting of a needle, and
her throat bears the bruises
of his harsh mouth upon her.

She tries to lie to him,
but he always discovers it
and punishes her for the deception.
Before long each little fib feels like
thick yarn dragged through her cheeks.

When he speaks of the red thread now,
she can sense it digging into her,
spiraling around her collarbone
to stitch a collar into her skin.

He tells her that she is a bad girl,
that she is broken, that everything
goes in one ear and out the other.
He tells her that he can fix it, if only
she will let him connect the dots.

She can feel his attention pricking
and pulling at her, drawing her shoulders
up and back, her spine straight.
But her head is bowed.

He tells her that the tender space
between her legs belongs to him alone,
punctuating it with piercing remarks
about her thighs and ankles and shins.

After he beats her, he brings her roses,
and she feels as if she is drowning
in a sea of red petals and green thorns.
She is choking to death on the red thread.

But worst of all is when he tells her
that she is doing this all to herself,
that it is her fault if she is unhappy
instead of because he hurts her.

She imagines her own hand
holding the needle, pushing it through
the soft spongy bumps where her spine
used to be, and it is then that she
begins to want to die.

Then one day his car breaks down
in a ghetto, and while they're walking
toward a distant gas station to get help,
a black boy brushes against her
and says, "Don't cry, lady."

She feels a sharp snip of pain,
and then the red thread is unraveling
itself from her body, burning as it slides
through her cheeks chest head back legs
throat spine, out and away and gone.

For the first time in ages,
she is alone within herself,
and she stumbles a little as she
continues down the sidewalk that way.

Behind her, the man who had been
controlling her is caught like a fish on a line,
as if the red thread had snapped loose from her
and snubbed him to something else -- or someone,
she realizes as she sees the policeman approaching.

She smiles, and lifts her chin, and keeps walking.

* * *


Here are the rather disturbing pictures that go with this poem: cheeks, collarbone, back, elbows, legs, throat, spine.

The red thread is said to connect fated lovers. However, it can be overplayed or otherwise go wrong.

(These links have some ugly stuff.)  When most people think of domestic violence, they think of physical abuse. However, emotional abuse is just as damaging. It has multiples types and signs. Know how to get help for abuse, or help someone else being abused.

(More awfulness in these links.)  As a superpower, empathy lends itself to particularly disturbing applications of abuse such as mindrape. This essay discusses some ramifications of that.

Difficult to read

Date: 2015-11-18 04:05 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Worth it for that first, fluttering sensation of absence that's too nebulous to recognize as FREEDOM (yet).

Doubly worth it for the approaching police, who will impose real penalties, instead of saying escaping is "enough."

A strong tale, full of dangerous ideas.


(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-18 11:02 am (UTC)
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
>>a black boy brushes against her
and says, "Don't cry, lady."<<

Is this a cameo from someone we've met before? Or is this someone new?

...I don't have a very complete head!map of where your characters in T-America are living, and who, therefore, is likely to bump into whom (in this case, literally).

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-11-18 11:35 am (UTC)
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
>>The woman is new. The boy is Cat, who has appeared in a previous poem, linked above.<<

*facepalm* I can't even claim "no coffee yet" as a defense.

*Goes to read the earlier poem*

Nice. It seems Cat was also working the connection between you and Terramagne, huh?

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-11-18 12:31 pm (UTC)
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
Well, you did say in his revised character sheet that he tends to work with the method of a cricket...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-18 02:44 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: (nike)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear

And it works on its own without the Terramagne connection. That could be a feature, if you were ever to make a collection tied together by subject rather than by series.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-18 03:29 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Whoo. That's an intense one - warnings much appreciated.

Go, lady, go!

And go Cat, go, too. The first poem was so warm and lovely - it's interesting to see another side of it, from the outside this time.

Will be keeping this thread in the back of my mind for prompt calls. :D

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-11-18 09:14 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
>>Thanks for the vote of confidence. With all the ruckus over content notes and trigger warnings these days, I like hearing that people use and appreciate them.<<

You're quite welcome, and thanks for the thoughtful warnings. I always read them, and though I rarely skip reading something entirely due to its warnings, I'll skip some content on some days. (Which, I believe, is the point.) So they're quite useful to me, at least!

>>Another argument about knowledge and power, really.<<



>>The next one about Cat has a whole different type of tension.<<

Ooh! Hooray!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-18 06:17 pm (UTC)
thnidu: plus sign (plus)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
What dd.said. (Using phone, tired, hard to type.) YEAH! Now gotta trace back for Cat.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-20 02:27 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: Commander Seth Goddard of Space Cases fame (SC: Goddard - do the best they can)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Seconding the ways in which several folks use warnings; previous comments sound similar to what I do when reading them. I'll skip something if I'm warned about it and am aware I'm not up to it, probably but not always to come back to later, and occasionally I'll spy a limit and go oooooh no, glad I didn't click that. So yes, warnings are useful things.

Seconding also the praise for this poem. It's intense in an understated way, which arguably makes it more so. May the newly-freed lady make it back to her family and relative safety, may the creepazoid abuser get his hat handed to him (seriously!), and may Cat get some warm fuzzies. He's earned a few. :)

Oh, and Ysabet? Heads up for a DM continuing backchannel conversation.

Ouch, but yay,

Date: 2015-11-18 04:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] book-worm5.livejournal.com
Definitely rough for her at first, but I'm glad Cat could help out! I wonder if she and/or her abuser has a variation on Cat's power, given she could sense the string so clearly.

Beta-wise, the line number for 50 snuck through the filter.

Re: Ouch, but yay,

Date: 2015-11-18 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Definitely rough for her at first, but I'm glad Cat could help out! <<

Thank you!

>> I wonder if she and/or her abuser has a variation on Cat's power, <<

As far as I know, she doesn't, but her abuser is an empath.

>> given she could sense the string so clearly. <<

Just as soups vary in their ability to sense each other, so do naries vary in their ability to sense superpowers. Some people are very alert, others a complete null. Also some superpowers are more noticeable than others, and powers used on someone are more conspicuous than powers used in ambient or not currently in use. Some people also perceive superpowers in kind of an allegorical mode.

>> Beta-wise, the line number for 50 snuck through the filter.<<

Fixed, thanks.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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