ysabetwordsmith: (gift)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the February 2, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] my_partner_doug, [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon, and [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "separation and reunion" square in my 1-23-16 card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem has been posted as a birthday present for [personal profile] callibr8. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"So Closely Allied"


Evelyn worked in Motor City as
a civil engineer, designing parks
and plazas for people to enjoy.

Degas worked as a municipal artist,
sculpting statues and park benches
out of beautiful stone blocks.

The two of them met while working on
the Edward Wagner Statuary Garden,
marveled to find their professions
so closely allied, and fell in love.

They were married in that same garden
a year later, moved in together, and
set about starting a family.

When Evelyn was three months pregnant,
they got caught in a traffic jam at rush hour,
caused by some soup fight, and then
they got caught in the crossfire.

Degas worried that something worse
might have happened to them beyond
a wrecked car and minor injuries, but
the emergency room crew assured
them that the babies were fine.

The twins arrived on June 20, 1999,
Phoebe a few minutes before Floyd,
and as far as anyone could tell,
they were indeed fine.

The babies cried whenever anyone
tried to separate them, but the pediatrician
said that was perfectly normal for twins,
so Degas made a double-wide crib
to keep them close together.

There was never any of the solitary play
that the baby books predicted; Phoebe
and Floyd played with each other
from the time they could move.

Phoebe made friends easily
and Floyd excelled at teamwork,
so their parents did not worry about
getting a few social details out of order.

Both of the twins loved reading, and
would tumble into the bathtub without
any fuss if promised an extra story,
then fall asleep on top of each other
in the middle of the second one.

Their parents and grandparents
took them for long walks on the beach,
barefoot over the smooth cobblestones
that required so much more attention
than toddling over smooth sidewalks,
and yet felt so good underfoot.

Afterwards, Evelyn soaped them
and rinsed them and wondered why
two toddlers playing in a tub could
always talk her into letting them
stay up to watch Saturday Night Live.

At the table, the twins put their heads
together to sculpt mashed potatoes and
cheddar cheese, leaving Degas baffled
as to how they always got away with it.

The trouble started in first grade,
when the principal insisted that twins
couldn't stay in the same class.

No matter how many times their parents
walked them to their separate rooms,
Phoebe and Floyd somehow
wound up together again.

They would turn their adorable,
pleading faces on the teachers and
insist that they had been born together,
so they belonged together.

And the teachers would give in.

It was the principal who figured out that
the twins had some kind of superpower
which let them manipulate people.

He sent them home and called SPOON
and declared that they couldn't come back
until they could keep to their own heads
and not bother anyone else.

It was their parents who realized
that the twins had Telempathy, but
only when they were together.

Separately, Phoebe had a bit of Empathy
and Floyd had a dab of Telepathy, but
neither of them could focus or control it
without the other for balance.

It was just plain more trouble
than it was worth to keep them apart.

So their parents let them practice together,
and the twins made progress with
their gifts, slowly but surely.

Phoebe and Floyd played and read,
tumbled and studied, even rambled
ahead of what their classmates
were doing back in school.

It was the home teacher who decided
that their constant contact somehow
constituted "inappropriate touching,"
(which it wasn't) and the social worker
who declared that they needed some time
away from home "just in case"
(which they didn't).

Evelyn called the district attorney,
who had been her roommate in college,
and set the lawsuits in motion.

Degas called SPOON and fretted over
what harm might be done to the twins,
and in a worried whisper, even by them.

It was Phoebe and Floyd who
rescued themselves, though,
brought home that evening by
a bewildered policeman who
hardly knew what to do with
the two gradeschoolers who
were plastered on each other
like a pair of huggy monkeys.

The twins demanded their right
to stay together, and backed it up
with their superpowers, so closely allied
that it was impossible to determine where
one ability ended and the other began.

That started an uncomfortable conversation
about ethics and how powers were for
helping, not for hurting, and it wasn't
polite to barge into someone's mind
the way the twins had done.

Phoebe insisted that the grownups
had started it by dragging them apart
and what were superpowers even for
if not for saving your family?

Floyd maintained that family
was about doing hard things together,
or what was the point if you were just
going to bail when it got bad?

Granny Whammy herself observed
that the twins were six years old and
could just about remember to keep quiet
in the library three times out of five, and
did anyone really want to see what
two panicky telempaths could do to
someone who was hurting their family?

So the twins got a new home teacher and
a soup mentor, both of whom understood that
Phoebe and Floyd came as a set just like
the salt and pepper did, which made
everyone's life easier and safer
than trying to fight it had done.

They learned and grew and got stronger.

They touched each other,
not because they wanted
to do dirty things but because
they had come into the world
that way, and even their powers
recognized how important it was.

They still took barefoot walks on the beach
and read together and fell asleep in a pile,
but nobody tried to pry them apart anymore.

They were Phoebe-and-Floyd,
moving through the world as
two people but one social unit,
almost like a married couple except
that they were brother and sister,
never mind what the nasty people
sometimes said about them.

No one could separate two so closely allied.

* * *

Notes:

Degas Brinkerhoff -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and dark brown curly hair. He is the husband of Evelyn, father of Phoebe and Floyd. They live in Motor City. Degas designs and makes public artworks and practical objects, mostly in stone, such as statues and park benches. He met his wife Evelyn while working on the same park project. A perennial challenge in their relationship is that when they disagree, she pushes and he digs in.
Qualities: Master (+6) Family Man, Expert (+4) Sculptor, Good (+2) Spatial Intelligence, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Trustworthy
Poor (-2) Stubborn

Evelyn Brinkerhoff -- She has fair skin, green eyes, and long wavy chestnut hair. She is the wife of Degas, mother of Phoebe and Floyd. They live in Motor City. Evelyn designs and manages public spaces such as parks, plazas, and community centers. She met her husband Floyd while working on the same park project. A perennial challenge in their relationship is that when they disagree, she pushes and he digs in.
Qualities: Master (+6) Mother, Expert (+4) Civil Engineer, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Inspiring, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Poor (-2) Pushy

Phoebe Brinkerhoff -- She has fair skin, hazel eyes with a brown dot low on the left iris, and long wavy brown hair. She was born on June 20, 1999, a few minutes before her twin brother Floyd. They belong to the high school class of 2017. They live in Motor City. Phoebe and Floyd have a strong twin rapport and hate being separated.
Origin: Their parents were caught in the crossfire of a soup fight during rush hour, while their mother was pregnant with them. They developed superpowers in the womb, and because of that context, their abilities orient on each other.
Uniform: Both twins favor casual, comfortable clothes without strong gender markers. They vary between dressing alike or different.
Qualities: Good (+2) Animals, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Idealistic, Good (+2) Making Friends, Good (+2) Reader
Poor (-2) Haste Makes Waste
Powers: (variable) Empathy
While they are separate, Phoebe has Poor (-2) Empathy. Together, they have Telempathy growing into Mind Powers as they get older. Touching fingertips raises the level to Average; holding hands raises it to Good; full-body contact raises it to Expert.
Motivation: "People are more important than things."

Floyd Brinkerhoff -- He has fair skin, hazel eyes, and short curly brown hair. He was born on June 20, 1999, a few minutes after his twin sister Phoebe. They belong to the high school class of 2017. They live in Motor City. Floyd and Phoebe have a strong twin rapport and hate being separated.
Origin: Their parents were caught in the crossfire of a soup fight during rush hour, while their mother was pregnant with them. They developed superpowers in the womb, and because of that context, their abilities orient on each other.
Uniform: Both twins favor casual, comfortable clothes without strong gender markers. They vary between dressing alike or different.
Qualities: Good (+2) Reader, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Plants, Good (+2) Practical, Good (+2) Teamwork
Poor (-2) He Who Hesitates Is Lost
Powers: (variable) Telepathy
While they are separate, Floyd has Poor (-2) Telepathy. Together, they have Telempathy growing into Mind Powers as they get older. Touching fingertips raises the level to Average; holding hands raises it to Good; full-body contact raises it to Expert.
Motivation: "We can do hard things together."

See Phoebe and Floyd as infants, toddlers, first graders, junior high students, and teenagers.

* * *

"My sister and I, you will recollect, were twins, and you know how subtle are the links which bind two souls which are so closely allied."
-- Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Edward Wagner was a famous sculptor from Detroit, Michigan (part of Motor City in Terramagne).

Twins often have a special bond, which can go as far as telepathy. Separating twins at school is controversial and can disrupt attachment. It's important to nurture the twin bond in pairs who value it. (Some don't, and should be left to go their separate ways.)

Doublewide is one style of twin crib.

Solitary play is usually the first stage of play. However, some twins and strong extroverts skip it.

Huggy monkeys are stuffed animals with long arms and velcro on their paws so they can be linked together. They are usually but not always simian in form. The phrase is also used to describe people who stick close to each other.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-09-19 09:17 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Nice! Good for everyone who stood up for the twins, and for them for making the adults listen.

-ZB

uhm...

Date: 2017-09-19 11:27 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
the link for the face claim for Floyd and Pheobe goes to a list article hen I click...was this intentional?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-09-19 12:52 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lone_cat
The sheet for Degas says "Floyd designs".

(no subject)

Date: 2017-09-19 01:09 pm (UTC)
curiosity: A string of colored lights runs along a mantle, and run down the wall. (Picto: Dark Lights)
From: [personal profile] curiosity
I can see how their bond would be problematical for the average person. :(
Luckily, they have a good support network.
Edited (It sent without the second half of my comment.) Date: 2017-09-19 01:10 pm (UTC)

game, set, well-matched!

Date: 2017-09-20 12:54 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
Delighted to see this, and for the satisfactory ending.

Very, very unhappy with the in-DUH-viduals who abused their authority... that's scary to read about because it happens on a daily basis, and for most pebbles who get buried by such avalanches, there's *no* recourse.

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