ysabetwordsmith: (Schrodinger's Heroes)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the January 6, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] janetmiles and [personal profile] technoshaman. It also fills the "first library card" square in my 12-30-14 card for the Rites of Passage Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Schrodinger's Heroes project.


"A Faithful Friend and a Good Library"


Eric scraped his shovel along the deep bed
that would soon become a butterfly garden.
They'd had to loosen the soil with pickaxes
before they could start digging it out.

He was bored half to death,
and the job was nowhere near done.
"Hey TeJay, who's your best friend?"

TeJay looked up, sweat pouring
down his dark skin. "What do you care?"

"Gotta talk about something," Eric said.

"I don't really have one," TeJay said as he
started filling the bed with compost mix.

"Oh," Eric said, following suit.
"If you did have, what kinda stuff
would you want to do?"

"I dunno," TeJay said. "Study together,
maybe. Go hiking or camping --
I like the outdoors a lot."

"I've gone camping," Eric said.
"Best friends are good for that."

"Who's yours, then?" TeJay asked.

"Used to be Rob," Eric said,
"but I ain't too happy with him now.
So I guess I don't have one either."

"Do you miss it?" TeJay said.

"I miss having someone
to hang out with who
knows me that good,"
Eric said with a shrug.
"I don't miss his fool ideas
gettin' my ass whupped."

TeJay laughed. "Good reason
to replace them, then," he said.
"Get the map so we can
start setting out these plants."

Eric got the map, but when
he frowned over it, TeJay
gently took it away and said,
"I'll point and you put 'em down.
Then we can both dig in."

TeJay proved to be quite good
at directing Eric to place all the pots
inside the outline that vaguely resembled
a butterfly, with a wide clay dish for the head
that would be filled with wet sand.

"What do you think this will look like
when it's finished?" Eric asked
as he plunked the seedlings down.

"Like a garden, I guess," TeJay said.
"Don't expect it to bloom all at once.
There should be a few flowers
through most of the year, though."

Next the two boys worked together
to bury the roots. Eric kept getting
dirt down the cuffs of his work gloves,
but it felt oddly satisfying to make
something so full of life.

"How do you know so much about this?"
Eric asked, patting the last plant into place.

"I read a lot," TeJay said. "The library
is a great place to spend the weekend."

"Can't," Eric said. "I don't got a card."

"So come into town with me
and we'll get you one," TeJay said
as they began to spread bark chips
between the delicate seedlings.

Eric swallowed his pride and agreed.

After they finished the garden,
Uncle Chris drove them to the library.

It wasn't as easy as TeJay
made it out, though, because
unlike TeJay who lived inside
the Waxahachie limits, Eric's folks
had a place out in the country
and for that a library card cost extra.

"So much for that idea," Eric said.
"I ain't got no sixty bucks,
and neither do you."

"I know who does, though,"
TeJay said with a grin,
and damned if he didn't talk
Uncle Chris into paying for it.

That was the most anybody
ever spent on Eric outside of
his birthday or Christmas.

Soon as he had the card in hand,
TeJay hauled him off to look for books.

"I don't like books much,"
Eric admitted. "I can't read too good."

"So we'll find you something with
lots of pictures," TeJay said.

"I ain't a baby!" Eric said.

"I never said you were," TeJay replied.
"I just think you'll do better with a book
that's not a solid wall of words. Pictures,
you can look at them and then look
for plants or butterflies that match."

True to his word, TeJay found a copy
of Butterfly Gardening for Texas,
which even Eric had to admit
looked kind of interesting.

"Next stop, ice cream,"
Uncle Chris declared
as they pulled away from
the library parking lot.

They stopped at Amy's Ice Creams,
where Uncle Chris ordered peach daiquiri
and Eric got strawberry vanilla bean,
which was like Neapolitan without
the bitter chocolate he didn't like.

TeJay picked out ancho chocolate.
Who the heck put peppers in ice cream?
But TeJay let Eric sample it, and
he had to admit it was ... interesting.

When they got back to the Tef,
TeJay urged Eric to take the book
and come look for butterflies.

"We just got done planting the garden,"
Eric said. "It ain't growed in yet."

"Yeah, but we got the whole compound
to explore. There's bound to be
butterflies in it somewhere,"
TeJay said with a wave.

"Did we get the right kinda plants?"
Eric said anxiously as he
looked back and forth between
the garden and the guidebook.

"Well, Ash picked the garden plan,
so I'm gonna say yes," TeJay answered.
He went past the new bed and instead
headed for the dirt road where blossoms
of red and yellow dotted the green grass.

"How come you're so stuck on books?"
Eric asked, following TeJay.

"My mama says all you really need to be happy
is a faithful friend and a good library,"
TeJay explained.

"What do you think these are?" Eric wondered
as he leaned over the colorful blooms.

"Indian blankets, maybe," TeJay said,
pointing to the red ones. "Tickseed is yellow.
I think the whites are daisies."

Pale orange butterflies fluttered up.
"Those look like ... sulphurs," Eric said.
TeJay had been right about the pictures
helping him figure things out.

They hiked for an hour, rambling
around the compound in search of
more butterflies and wildflowers.

Once they saw a pipevine swallowtail,
its dark wings spotted with blue-green and orange.

"The caterpillars need pipevine," TeJay said,
"but the adults like flowers such as thistle
and beebalm and wild phlox."

Eric had never thought much about
butterflies other than trying to catch them
for a school project he wound up flunking anyhow.

They were a lot more interesting
with someone to share the discovery,
and Eric was still talking about them
when Pat bonged on the yard bell
to call the boys for supper.

* * *

Notes:

"That perfect tranquillity of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend and a good library."
-- Aphra Behn

Here is a list of Texas butterflies.

Butterfly Gardening for Texas by Geyata Ajilvsgi

A butterfly garden attracts many beneficial insects. Learn how to plant one.

Library fees prevent many people from using a library. In order to have an informed populace, every citizen needs full access to a FREE and serviceable library.

Amy's Ice Creams in Waxahachie, Texas offers peach daiquiri, strawberry-vanilla bean, and ancho chocolate flavors.

The compound has many Texas wildflowers. Read about Indian blanket, daisies, and tickseed. You can plant your own. If you don't live in Texas, look for wildflowers native to your area.

Texas butterflies include sulfurs and pipevine swallowtails.

A yard bell is useful for summoning people across a large area.

Satisfying

Date: 2017-03-23 04:04 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
It's so nice to see these two becoming friends. They're not friends yet, not really, but they're both willing to TRY.

They've come so far from the first poem that each new one is an enormously satisfying story worthy of re-reading several times.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-23 04:18 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
I'm not as big a fan of these two as I am some of the other threads, but I *am* a fan of them; there's satisfaction in seeing a mixed-race friendship spring up and swing the finger (or crook it in invitation, depending on the reaction) at *both* sides...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-23 04:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The bit about the library fees, yeah. So glad these two are becoming friends. -kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-23 07:54 pm (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
They have an Amy's! Their vanilla is amaaaazing :)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-24 02:03 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Yay! This was very refreshing and sweet. Like a good mild but tasty ice cream.

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