ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah. It also fills the "learning to be loved" square in my 6-16-17 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored from a pool including [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] technoshaman, and EdorFaus. It belongs to the Iron Horses thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Come Out of the Darkness"


On the third morning after
Kenzie's rescue, Ida decided
that he needed some fresh air.

She found him leaning against
the wall of the roundhouse where
he was admiring the altar niches
that covered the back of the kitchen
facing the master bedroom.

"Follow me outside," Ida said,
placing a hand on his shoulder.
"I think that it's time for you
to come out of the darkness.
It is not good to sit indoors for
too long; it makes people gloomy."

"I'm supposed to stay out of
the sun," Kenzie said, mindful of
the healer's warning to be careful
about his recently injured skin.

"We have a porch," Ida said.
"You can sit in the shade there
and keep me company while I work."

"Okay," Kenzie said, letting her
lead him to the comfortable bench.

Ida had a tub of wet rawhide
that she was cutting into parfleches.
As she finished shaping each one, she
placed it into a different tub layered
with sweetgrass to help the hides
dry slowly and evenly.

"After these finish drying,
I will paint them," she said.

"What will you paint?" Kenzie said.
He had enjoyed the art classes
he snuck into at college.

"I don't know yet," Ida said.
"They'll tell me when it's time."

Kenzie wondered what that
would be like. It sounded exciting.

Anything would be better than
dealing with the mess in his head,
so he welcomed the distraction.

His foxes thought he was two-spirit,
and he knew they were wiser than he was.

Blair thought he was two-spirit, and she
had a lot more experience than he did.

Sometimes Kenzie felt like his body
was wrong, and other times like
his personality was wrong, and
most of the time he just felt
confused and miserable.

He knew that transgender folks
were supposed to have a coming out
sort of like gay folks did, but he was
pretty sure that getting thrown
out of a truck wasn't it.

"Now there's a long face,"
Ida said. "Want to tell me
what's bothering you?"

"It's kind of ... complicated,"
Kenzie hedged, looking away.

"The world is complicated, child,"
Ida said. "Remember that I got Blair
through her challenges all right."

Blair was about as okay as it was
possible to get, Kenzie realized, and
and if Ida had helped her get there,
maybe that was worth exploring.

"Are you sure you have time to listen
to my problems?" Kenzie said.

"I'm not going anywhere," Ida said,
patting the side of her tub. "Look at
all this rawhide I have to process if we
want parfleches for our traditional trips!"

Kenzie longed for the comfort of
someone who had heard it all before.

"It's so hard trying to figure out
who I am," he admitted. "I want
to be myself, but I don't know how.
Everyone expects me to know
already, and it's so much work
explaining to them that I don't."

It felt like when he reached for
something over his head and
then the motion pulled against
his new scars, a stretchy hurt.

"That sounds familiar," Ida said.
"How can you explain something
to others before you've finished
learning it yourself? Just tell them
to wait! They won't die of impatience."

Kenzie chuckled. "You make it
sound so easy," he said.

"It's easier than working
your tail off trying to answer
all their questions before you
know yourself," Ida said.

"Good point," Kenzie admitted.

"Have you ever seen a crawdad
shed its skin?" Ida said. Her hands
worked briskly, scoring the wet hide
where it was supposed to fold.

"I don't think so," Kenzie said.
"I've only seen a few of them."

"Well, they have a hard shell
to protect them. In order to grow,
they have to cast it off," Ida said.
"Then they're all soft and white and
vulnerable until it hardens again,
so they hide under a rock."

"I get that," Kenzie said.
He'd love to crawl under a rock
and stay there until his life
started to make sense.

"Let this be your rock,"
Ida said, rapping her knuckles
against the wall of the house.
"We'll protect you until you feel
ready to face the world again."

Kenzie swallowed hard.
He wanted desperately
to crawl into Ida's soft lap
and let her protect him.

"It's tempting, but ..." he said.

What stopped him was
the memory of his own mother
scolding him for being so clingy
and admonishing him to act his age.

The last thing he needed was to make
a nuisance of himself to his hostess.

"I may not have my daughter's sharp tongue,
but I can't say I think much of your relatives
if they've left you so shy of seeking comfort
when you need it," Ida said. "You can lean
on me, Kenzie, I won't think less of you."

With that encouragement, he dared
to scoot a little closer, so that he
could feel her like a warm wall.

Kenzie sighed and let himself rest
against Ida, his thoughts stilling.

"There now, that's the lot,"
she said presently.

Kenzie looked up to see
that Ida had finished cutting
all the rawhide into parfleches.

He sighed, expecting to be
shooed back into the house and
handed off to someone else.

"Look at this, your hair's gone
all frizzy," Ida said, running her hand
along his coppery braids. "I've got
a cousin with hair like yours, and
it just won't stay put for long."

"Really? She has hair like mine?"
Kenzie said. "That's hard to believe."

"She has red hair and green eyes
just like you, and her twin sister has
blond hair and blue eyes," Ida said.
"Trader blood, you know, but their skin
is red so they don't burn in the sun."

They sounded beautiful. Kenzie
wondered if he'd get to meet them.

He lifted his hands to the end of
one braid, prying at the leather thong
Ron had fastened it with. The effort
made his back twinge unpleasantly.

"I know Ron's been helping you with
your hair, but he and Ben went to catch
some fish for lunch," Ida said. "Why don't
you let me brush your hair for you this time?"

Kenzie weighed the imposition of that
against the pain of doing it himself
and said, "Yeah, if you don't mind."

"I'm happy to help, or I wouldn't
have offered," Ida assured him.

Her hands were quick and gentle
as she unraveled the long braids.

She produced a hairbrush from
somewhere and began working
from the ends upward.

Kenzie melted underneath
her touch. Maybe Ida was
treating him a bit like a baby,
but it felt so good, he didn't care.

The brush stroked over his scalp
and down through the soft strands
of his hair, smoothing the frizz away.

The wind shifted, bringing with it
the scent of a fire and something
not quite like the barbecue he knew.

Kenzie lifted his head and
sniffed, trying to identify it.

"Smell that smoke?" Ida said.
"Someone is making jerky.
They'll probably bring some by,
knowing we've got guests."

"S'nice," Kenzie mumbled.

Ida divided his hair in half,
then each half into thirds.

Her fingers moved deftly
down the length as she
replaced the two braids.

Kenzie sighed, sad that
it was over so soon.

"I can braid your hair
whenever you like," Ida said,
"although I think Ron would be
sad if you cut him off completely."

"Wouldn't do that," Kenzie said.

"That's thoughtful of you," Ida said,
then patted the least-injured part of
Kenzie's hip. "You're falling asleep.
Go back inside and nap until lunch."

"I don't know why I'm so tired,"
Kenzie said as he let Ida help him
to his feet. "I just got up."

"Check the shadows," she said.
"You have been up for hours.
The boys will be back soon
with their fish to cook."

Kenzie wondered how the day
had gotten away from him, but
he was too tired to protest.

Ida steered him tenderly back
to the bathroom, and then into
the guest bedroom -- which was
Kenzie's now, that was hard
for him to remember.

"Shouldn't be this sleepy,"
Kenzie said as she put him to bed.

"From what I've heard, you have
been roughed up and healed up.
Before that you didn't have a place
to call your own. Now your two spirits
are trying to fit with each other and
heal your body," Ida said. "And you
wonder why you're feeling tired?"

"Well, when you put it that way ..."
Kenzie said in a wry tone.

"I'm a mother, Kenzie, I've
seen it before," she said. "If you
rest when your body needs it, then
you'll recover sooner. The world will
still be waiting for you whenever you're
ready to come out of the darkness."

Kenzie wished, suddenly and fiercely,
that he'd had someone -- anyone --
like Ida Starblanket when he first felt
the stirrings of difference inside himself.

It would have been so much less painful
to come out to her instead of floundering
through his family's chilly reception
to his "questioning" phase.

"Stay with me?" he whispered,
feeling guilty for being so needy.

Soft fingers brushed his cheek,
taking away the tears that he
hadn't even realized were there.

"Good boy," Ida told him.
"Of course I'll stay with you."

"Thanks," Kenzie said.

"You're welcome," Ida said.
"It's hard work, learning to be loved
when you've had so little experience
with it -- but you're doing just fine."

She pressed a kiss to his forehead,
and it carried him down into sleep.

* * *

Notes:

"[we need to] educate all educators and students. That way the people who may identify themselves as Two-spirited can comfortably come out of the darkness and learn what should be known and use the new experiences in everyday life."
-- Quote from youth participant

The Starblanket family roundhouse is made of cob with a grass roof. It has three bedrooms and a den/playroom. In this floor plan, the main entrance comes through the laundry room. In a traditional home, the place of honor was opposite the entrance, in this case roughly the great room and the master bedroom. The kitchen occupies the central area where the hearth once resided. The back side of the kitchen facing the master bedroom has altar niches. The library runs along the wall beside the back door and wraps around to the door of the master bedroom. The dining table tucks against a bench along the outer wall. The living room has a built-in couch and a woodstove. The sitting room has a built-in couch, chairs, and bookcases. The den / playroom has a fireplace, a built-in couch, and several pieces of loose furniture. There is also a niche with a desk and chair behind the fireplace. Toys are kept in baskets or shelves inset into the walls. The laundry room has a sink and cabinets in addition to the washer and dryer. The kitchen includes a refrigerator, chest freezer, stove, and sink. The back side of the kitchen facing the master bedroom has altar niches. The master bedroom has a queen-size bed. The master bathroom is decorated with tile mosaics of sea creatures. It has a wooden shelf unit attached to the wall. The guest bedroom has a full-size bed with a desk and chair behind the headboard. A huge planter lines the wall above the window, above which hangs a ceiling fan with grow lights. The planter and nearby shelves hold a variety of succulents, other houseplants, and even a banana tree. The bunkroom holds one pair of twin-size bunks along with a windowseat. The guest bathroom is decorated with turquoise tiles and small planters full of water-loving flowers. This is the porch of the Starblanket family roundhouse.

Acute stress reaction is a common response to a sudden, unpleasant event. There are ways to cope with acute stress and treatment options if it gets serious. Because ASR appears and then fades quickly, the main goals are to provide comfort and to reduce the chance of it developing into PTSD, so emotional first aid helps. These tips for getting out of bed while depressed are also good for other situations that drain your energy, such as recovering from a bad beating.

Parfleches are still made in local-America, but they're more popular in Terramagne-America. Originally they were made by women, but now they are made by all genders. Because the styles varied across tribes and people traded widely, historic parfleches can be used to show the trade routes. Read about tanning skins to make rawhide or buckskin, and see a parfleche pattern.

Gender can be complex and confusing, so it's okay to be confused. Here is a guide to exploring nonbinary identities. Supporting a nonbinary child ranges from preschool through teen years and beyond.

Crawdads are crustaceans that grow by shedding their skin.

Children need touch in comfort for healthy development. So do adults. Touch deprivation erodes mental health. Here are some ways to exchange touch.

Jerky is a type of dried meat. Traditionally, Native Americans made it from buffalo, deer, or elk meat but many types of meat will work. Watch a video on making jerky.

Generosity is among the most valued of native virtues. Read some examples from Cree culture. In a tribe, when somebody makes something, they customarily share part of it with others. A close-knit community develops a kind of social proprioception that tells them who needs it most right now, such as someone who's hosting guests. This is the basis of the gift economy.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 01:12 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
*happysmiley*

It *is* hard work, learning to *be loved* when things have been so one-sided for so long. Fortunately, my N lights up when I ask her to do something and she's able to... it makes it easier.

The one true working anarchy I ever participated in, the pre-1994 USENET, had a gift economy. Those who contributed the most got the respect and wielded the power.

Ooooooooooh. I just had a thunk. When I went through credit counseling many moons ago, our counselor *insisted* we put a little in the budget for entertainment. "You go crazy if you don't," she said.

I think the idea of a Basic Income should include an additional ten percent above and beyond what's required for food/clothing/shelter/communications/healthcare, for *giving*. Now, the whole idea of BI is "no strings attached".... so no enforcing that... but just put that out there, the idea that with basic needs covered, a gift economy is an Idea...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 03:08 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
Alas, there's a growing trend to try to stop folks on food stamps from buying things like soda pop, snack foods, etc. They claim it's for "health" reasons, but in reality it seems to be more of the "if you are poor you don't deserve anything nice" mindset.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 05:48 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Yep. Bloody tories.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 07:42 pm (UTC)
we_are_spc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] we_are_spc
Yeah, don't get me started. Because they're also trying to stop us from buying steaks/fish/other things, too.

I don't necessarily agree with that portion, but I do feel like there should be a limit on the type of things (IE sodas and things) bought due to the fact that I saw someoneputting back some meats and things that would've been more useful to keep around the sodas 'because the kids need them'. Which is the wrong mindset to have in that sort of thing-upsetting children, while not always a good thing, needs to happen in order to have them grow up well-adjusted despite their surroundings.

It's a hard line to make, really, and I don't envy the ones to have to do it.

-Fallon~

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 09:30 pm (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
Well you have to consider "quality of life" stuff too. Restricting a kid's soda intake is one thing. Telling them they can't have any? That's a whole different matter.

Basically, the line *shouldn't* be being dawn. Because it amounts to saying "since you are poor we know better than you do and are entitled to make *our* priorities take precedence over yours".

Not being able to buy alcohol? That one is justified by the unfortunate fact that there are folks who'd spend it all on beer or whatever and let their family starve. :-(

The one on hot food is a bit silly at times. You can't buy a roasted chicken if it's hot. But the next day, when they put the (now cold & refrigerated) unsold ones in the deli case you *can* buy them.

But that one is aimed at getting folks to make their money stretch farther by doing their own cooking.

But when you get into "for your own good" you've crossed a line.,

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-10-26 04:47 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>Agreed. And that's exactly how America treats all disempowered groups: you don't matter, you don't get choices, go away and die.

A problem with this is that people simultaneously complain about poor people making bad choices. Well, there are two reasons for that: 1) It takes practice to make good choices. 2) It also takes opportunity, and L-America routinely and deliberately shuts off opportunities for poor people. So homeless people piss in alleys because there is literally nowhere else for them to piss and all humans need to do that. <<

*sarcasm mode on*
"We're going to help you make better choices by limiting your ability to make choices."
*sarcasm mode off*

>>> But that one is aimed at getting folks to make their money stretch farther by doing their own cooking.<<

That would make sense IF the program also made sure that poor people had access to raw ingredients plus the knowledge, equipment, time, and energy to cook all the time. Most don't. Poor people have less education than average and live in crummy housing that often lacks a full kitchen. They're usually tired and short on time -- because a lot of America's poor are working two or more jobs. They eat convenience food and fast food because they don't have a choice.<<

Oh, you can't get food stamps if you don't have sort sort of cooking facilities. Fortunately for the homeless, a campfire counts.

Living in a food desert is a somewhat different matter. Fortunately Portland has great public transit, so it's not as hard as in many places to get to someplace better than the corner convenience store.

The education is a problem. Besides not knowing how to cook anything that doesn't have directions on the container, folks don't know to shop. I recall some friends having to sit down with a guy we all knew and explain to him why his money kept vanishing so fast.

Among other things he didn't understand three things. First was "unit pricing" (ie figuring out how much an ounce of mustard costs). Second was that the smaller containers of products generally cost more per unit than larger ones. Third was that even for the same size container convenience stores charge more than a supermarket.

They had to go thru the math step by step with him. Several times. Once he quit buying small containers of whatever at the convenience store and started buying larger (but not larger than he could use) containers at stores where things were cheaper, his money went a lot farther.

Me, I've had to teach folks how to draw up a budget. They always complain about the amount per day I listed for food in the initial run. Then I pointed out that it was double(or more) what somebody on food stamps had to work with.

Spreadsheets make this a lot easier. Last time I did it, I just pulled up their copy of OpenOffice and set up a really simple budget sheet and plugged in their income and bills. Then let them play with the values of other things like food, books, etc.

Oh yeah, those cooking instructions. I messed up a fair bit of food trying to figure out what "low" and "medium" were. Because they are *not* the places on the stove controls marked that way!

And then there was a the cookbook I got given that had lots of recipes, but a few of them assumed things. Like what the heck were "shirred" eggs? (This was in the early 70s, so I couldn't just google it)

>>Agreed. Because the pattern clearly indicates that people in power are doing things for their own good, not for the good of poor people. They just like to dress it up that way.<<

Actually, far too often it doesn't even benefit them that much. Instead it frequently is a combination of "because we can" and weird "moral" BS.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-10-28 09:24 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>>Me, I've had to teach folks how to draw up a budget. <<

That's nice of you.<<

First time it was self defense. He was a housemate and was having trouble paying his share of the bills.

I also wound up being the one to handle the bills for the household. Had to write my own "accounting" program to not just handle shares, but how much folks still owed when they were behind (printed up an itemized bill with how much they owed for what, applying partial payments to the oldest bill first.

>>>Oh, you can't get food stamps if you don't have sort sort of cooking facilities. Fortunately for the homeless, a campfire counts.<<

I did not know that. I guess they expect other people to starve.<<<

The rules for food stamps and welfare have a lot "gotchas" hidden in them. All thanks to legislators playing god with people's lives.

I remember sitting down with a booklet that they gave out to food stamp applicants (back in the 70s) that explained how they calculated benefits.

I had to write out a formula and use algebra to simplify it to figure out one bit. the simple bit was that you got to subtract allowable expenses to get an interim value. Then they subtracted that from 130% of itself to get your adjusted income. Which was then used to see how much you'd get in benefits.

That meant that to have zero income (and thus get full benefits) you had to be *losing* money. That's why I had to write things up as a formula and do the algebra several times. I couldn't believe that bit until I checked. No idea what they *thought* they were doing, but that's what it actually amounted to.

And this was back when they issued everybody the same amount of scrip and you had to pay *cash* for the difference between the calculated amount and the amount of scrip you got. So you might have to pay $100 to get $120 of scrip.

Thank god *that* changed a few years later and they started just issuing the calculated benefit amount.

And until they switched to the debit cards you had the problem of "change". The scrip was in whole dollar amounts and the stores couldn't give you change, they had to give you IOUs for the change. Which, of course were only good at that store or, if you were lucky, at that chain of stores.

so you often lost money there because you may have had to make a purchase somewhere weird because you were outing jobhunting and it'd have cost more to take the bus back there than the IOU was worth.

And don't get me started on the rules about earned income while on welfare. Or the resource limits. (I was on welfare while awaiting my SSI/SSDI determination.)

This is why I'd love to see a deal where the lawmakers had to spend some time with their income in escrow except for amounts equal to say unemployment or welfare and have to use foodstamps.

and go thru the application processes.

They'd change their ideas about what was "reasonable" fast.


(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 01:13 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Kenzie is so lucky to have fallen in with these folks. Here's hoping it'll help him heal from all the shite he had to live through before.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 01:26 am (UTC)
technoshaman: (raven)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
I don't doubt that they'll make sure he does. I suspect that that won't be the last time he has to deal with idiots like that, though.... gripping hand? said idiots' karma is more than likely going to be swifter and more unpleasant, and less unpleasant for Kenzie... and there may yet come a time where Kenzie is able to give the jerques a taste of Thunderbird while his friends `ohana (Ysabet, what's the local word for that?) simply stand and watch, grinning... and I don't mean the fortified wine here!

(It occurs to me that naming a *fortified wine* - designed for nothing more than simply getting drunk - "Thunderbird" - the name of a god that gets sommat vengeful when you mess with his people - is an act of bad karma that *might* have a bigger bill attached to it than the one currently hanging off a certain ferret-wearing shitgibbon, but I wouldn't place bets either way.)

Flying Raven here because birds of a feather... :D

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 01:35 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
...you know, you've got a point about the (ahem?) wine-like object we white folks have named Thunderbird. That was ... that was a BAD idea.

('we' meaning 'me', i ain't assumin' about anyone else round here)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-25 06:07 am (UTC)
technoshaman: (foggy)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
<--- WASP male (but the "P" hasn't stood for "Protestant" in 30 years)... I don't identify that way, but that's my heritage, and I can still fake it when I have to, or for shock value.

'sfunny how completely my internal identity is changing. Not so very long ago, I thought hair colour obviously out of a bottle was ... déclassé? Now? I'm like, hey, cool rainbow hairdo! I actually think I know who set *this* change off; [personal profile] solcita wore her hair a very professional-looking slightly-lighter-than-midnight blue for a while. After that, I started being okay with more variation...

The other thing, though? Again, not so very long ago, a large dark fellow would be just a bit unnerving to me, while some guy with a badge was probably okay. These days? The POC gets respect, and the fuzz get the side-eye. (I blame Seattle PD for this... GRR.... ) So, no. I was born in the American South, but the bullshit attitudes towards anything that ain't WASP-male were not *born* in *me*. Mitch McConnell and his ilk can just kiss my grits. The next time I go to Dixie it'll probably be because somebody *died*. And I won't want to stay long.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-26 08:29 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
*points up, nods, basically all of this, down to the part where I've been rearranging my brainparts*

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-26 08:53 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
I hope you have as much success with your work as I seem to be having with mine...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-26 09:08 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
I mean so far, so good, but it's hard to tell how much is left from inside, yanno?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-26 09:24 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
True story! In my case, given where I'm going, I'll probably need *somebody* for the rest of my life, or at least my working life...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-10-26 04:20 pm (UTC)
pantha: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pantha
Yay. So glad his found-family is awesome. <3

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