ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the November 21, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "stars" square in my 10-31-17 Space card for the Space and Time Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the series Feathered Nests, which you can explore via my Serial Poetry page.


"Dynamic Balancing Acts"


In autumn, when everyone else
was eagerly preparing for migration,
Fwil and Srii clung to each other and
wished they didn't have to go.

Even their chick Jeet picked up
on their anxiety and became fretful.

When they saw the humans
preparing for a supply run, though,
that gave Fwil a new idea.

"What if we went with them?"
Fwil asked, turning to Srii.

"Go with whom?" Srii said.

"The humans," Fwil said.
"Ensign Zaveri and Ensign Yom
migrate with their daughter Twee.
Perhaps they would allow us
to come with them this time."

Srii looked at the females
gathering in a tight-knit flock.
"It has to be better than here."

So they asked the humans
about migrating together.

"We'd love to have you --
I'm sure it would be good for
Twee to have Fifer company on
the way -- but it's not our decision,"
said Ensign Zaveri. "That would
be up to Captain Judd."

The captain was not always
sympathetic, but in the end
he agreed to let them come.

It was the strangest migration
that Fwil and Srii had ever been on.

They climbed into the shuttle with
their son Jeet and watched their world
grow small and fall away beneath them.

The stars shone bright and steady
in the black ocean of space, with
the human ship hanging there
like a courting pebble.

It felt strange to migrate
without flying, without effort,
and yet it was so relaxing that
Fwil and Srii couldn't complain.

The chicks were excited
at first but soon lost interest
in the way of young things.

It was, indeed, good for them
to have each other to play with
and learn from on the trip.

Fwil and Srii watched the stars
go past like schools of silver fish.

They looked at each other and knew
that if nothing else, this sight alone
had changed them forever, even if
they never came this way again.

Fwil thought he would want to,
though -- it was like living a legend.

They also got more time to watch
the humans who lived in couples
and try to figure out how they
managed to make it work.

At home, it was hard, but
maybe that was because
nobody else was doing it.

Eventually, Ensign Zaveri and
Ensign Yom came to them
in the stargazing lounge.

Twee and Jeet promptly began
playing some game that they had
invented based on a human toy
consisting of paper squares with
dots for the chicks to peck.

"We hear that you're trying
to figure out a binary relationship,"
Ensign Yom said to Fwil and Srii.

"Yes," said Fwil. "We don't mean
to stare, but there is no one at home
for us to learn from, and you two
seem to get along so well."

Ensign Zaveri laughed. "Oh,
you wouldn't say that if you
ever heard us fighting!"

"You fight?" Srii said,
her feathers bushing up
in surprise. "We thought
we were the only ones,
because we're perverts."

"Srii, everyone fights, it's just
that most people try not to do it
in public," said Ensign Yom. "When
you disagree in private, then it's
easier to patch up later."

Fwil thought about that.

They didn't have much privacy
at home, because he wasn't an aleph
and couldn't hold a territory, so they
kind of lived on the fringes the way
that the beth males usually did.

It wasn't like being in the midst
of a flock where everyone helped
to work out disagreements, either --
they had to do it all on their own.

"We will try arguing in private,"
he said. "Perhaps that will help."

"We know how hard it can be
when your tastes don't agree with
everyone else's," said Ensign Yom.
"We'll support you as best we can."

"People don't like your family
because of Twee?" asked Srii.

"No -- well yes, that too now,"
said Ensign Yom. "Among humans,
it's not usual for two women to be mates.
Most people accept it now, but some don't,
and they can be very rude about that."

They may as well complain about
males and females mating, because
of course females would get together.

How else would the modors ever
get in the mood otherwise?

Fwil didn't say that out loud,
though. Humans were peculiar,
and one had to make allowances.

"You do so well together," he said.
"I hardly ever see you tripping over
each other the way Srii and I do."

He knew how to move in a flock,
or in a three or a five, but with
just the two of them hovering
around the same chick, it was
hard to keep from colliding.

"Have you ever thought about
the stars?" Ensign Zaveri asked.

"What about them?" Fwil said,
looking outside at the glittering dark.

"Stars are like dynamic balancing acts
between two forces, fusion and gravity,"
said Ensign Zaveri. "Too much fusion
and a star explodes; too much gravity
and it collapses under its own weight."

"That's so sad," Twee said, looking up.

"No, it's just the way stars are,"
said Ensign Zaveri. "They need both.
It's much the same in a binary system.
If the stars get too close, they will collide
and burn each other up; too far away, and
they will fly apart to lose each other in space."

"That's not much better," Fwil muttered.
He didn't want to lose the sense of beauty
and serenity that he got from the stars.

"It's the same in a relationship,"
Ensign Zaveri explained. "You have
this give and take, like dancing."

"This relationship is nothing
like dancing," Fwil protested.

Dancing was about displaying
your skills for each other, not
moving together. How could
you pay attention like that?

"Well, ours is a bit different
than yours," Ensign Zaveri said.
"Would you like to see an example?"

"If you don't mind showing off for us,
then I would like to see," said Srii.

Ensign Yom got up and did something
with the computer in the wall, which
gave out a sweet, unfamiliar song.

Then the two women cuddled up
to each other as if they were about
to mate standing up with their clothes on --

and then they danced.

There was no other word for it,
even though it looked nothing like
any dance that Fwil had ever seen.

They held onto each other's bodies
and swayed together and stepped
between each other's feet, and
somehow they moved along at
the same speed as the song.

Even though they were humans,
this was much more erotic than
watching an aleph flirt around
with his beths and even a faeder.

The chicks ignored it, of course,
being only chicks -- but Fwil could
feel his ruff puffing out and Srii's knees
were shaking like she wanted to crouch
even though it was entirely the wrong season.

"Well, that was exciting!" Srii said breathlessly
when the song ended and the women sat down.
"I will never forget the sight of that in all my days."

Neither would Fwil. He could almost, almost
understand what they'd been saying about
stars and relationships and dancing, if
he could quiet his body long enough
to think it through all the way.

But Srii was laughing and
tugging him toward the room
that the humans had given them
to nest in, so it would have to wait.

They left Jeet with Twee and
her mothers. It wasn't quite like
having a flock, but it was close.

A flock wouldn't have shown them
the stars, or that feather-lifting dance.

All in all, Fwil preferred this dynamic balance.

* * *

Notes:

"Stars are like dynamic balancing acts between two forces: fusion and gravity."
-- Evan Gough, "Chance Discovery of a Three Hour Old Supernova," Universe Today, February 14, 2017

Dynamic balance is a secure relationship between objects in motion, which thus differs from static balance. With interpersonal relationships, it allows people to maintain their connection while moving and growing. With yin and yang theory, it expresses the idea of essential opposites in which each completes the other and both contain the seed of their opposite, so that they transition smoothly from one mode to the other.

Chicks of various species like to peck at contrasting spots of color. Playing cards have various designs, often with spots marking the suit and value. Put the two together, and you get alien chicks inventing a game with human playing cards that involves pecking the spots because that feels good to them.

Lesbian dancing is a beautiful variation on traditional male/female ballroom dance. Watch some in action. When close dancing first emerged, people considered it quite scandalous. The Fifers dance, but their display dances are different and farther apart. But now they have the idea of dirty dancing ...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 01:55 am (UTC)
technoshaman: (happydance)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
mmmmpurrrrr.... they'll be in their bunk? ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 02:03 am (UTC)
technoshaman: (wile_e)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
And then "pecking" reminds me of something *completely* different. Have you seen the hilarious Pixar short "For The Birds?" Saying this little flick is not safe for Pepsi is damning with faint praise.... What was it Seneca said, the best tragedy is when they see it coming? :)

Hmmmm. Maybe it's just me but I think finding out what makes one's beloved(s) *laugh* is a better way to make a long-term partnership than what makes'em want to drag you off behind closed doors... not that that's not *fun*, but the laughter will see you through when the badda-boom don't badda-bing for whatever reason...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 02:46 am (UTC)
acelightning: heart in the shape of a thorny rose (goth heart)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
What makes one's partner happy is not necessarily what makes them laugh... and I've spent 44.5 years with my partner, as we both continue to learn how to make each other happy :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 02:55 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Truth! It is, I think, a better start; I've learnt that when someone says of someone they've been with a while that they're "silly", with that goofy grin, that I should expect something formal in the post box.... ;) You're right for the long haul, the one leads, if one does it right, to the other. I've learnt from the way N likes her jokes - cerebral and punny - that she enjoys using her brain on others' behalf, and since she can't always use her physical strength, being the brains of an outfit means she's *contributing*... which she hates not doing.

And congratulations. That's a *long* time to be together... here's to one's 90th! :)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 12:39 pm (UTC)
acelightning: purple rose with chrome stem & leaves (rose)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
Our 90th will be in 2063, 16 years after my 100th birthday; of course, I'm looking forward to our 100th anniversary. (Hmm, if 25th is "silver", 50th is "gold", 60th is "diamond", and 70th is "platinum", I wonder what the materials are for 80, 90, and 100?)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 05:36 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Iridium, Osmium, and Rhenium, probably. 110 would be Tungsten.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-30 08:40 am (UTC)
acelightning: jacob's-ladder and fuming Erlenmeyer flask - "weird science" (weird)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
You geek, you! :-)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-11-29 05:38 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
>>... so will cuddling << +1

I really liked seeing the humans through alien eyes. Fun!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-12-01 12:32 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
That IS funny, even if it shows instant karma.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-12-01 12:57 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Oh, the instykarma *is* the fun part. "Uh-oh..."

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 03:23 am (UTC)
acelightning: melting ice cube (ice)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
This is a bit off-topic, but I've been wondering about something, and you seem to be someone who might know, or be able to find out. I know that in ice skating, "pairs skating" and "ice dancing" are different forms, and apparently same-sex pairs are now accepted in competition. What I don't know is whether there can be same-sex couples (or gender-switched couples, in which the person taking the "feminine" role leads) in ice dancing. Ice dancing requires lifts, and it's usually assumed that only a man can lift and hold a partner (of any gender) in a way that satisfies the rules of ice dancing. But my contrarian mind thinks it might be interesting to watch gender-bent ice dancing, analogous to the ballroom dancing you describe.

(Which eventually leads to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo...)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-11-29 12:59 pm (UTC)
acelightning: melting ice cube (ice)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
Thank you! I was sure you'd be able to find that information, and I was right :-)

That's fascinating, about the person who practically invented figure skating, performing with his male protege and dressing in flamboyant costumes that included female clothing. (Of course, male figure skaters, like male ballet dancers and interior decorators, have a reputation for being gay.) There wasn't any distinction then between what we now call "pair skating" (for which the Winter Olympics accepts same-sex pairs) and "ice dancing".

I'd like to see ice dancing with a woman lifting a man, because the whole dynamic of the performance must change :-)

I'm not heavily enthusiastic about dancing or ice skating, but they're pretty to watch. But I like genderfuck in general (my online name is non-gender-specific, and I had a lot of fun in chat rooms when people made incorrect assumptions...)

Thanks again!

stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-06 09:39 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
I've been watching Olympic skating for over four decades now. From my comfy chair, the key differences between ice dancing and pairs skating come down to these things:
- in ice dancing, the entire routine must be performed to the music of a particular dance, and the steps of that well-known dance must be a major feature of the routine, whereas in pairs skating, while the couple must incorporate footwork sequences, they are free to create musical montages and to arrange the flow of their choreography as they see fit
- in ice dancing, the "lifts" may not exceed shoulder height. Thus, one does not see the beautiful overhead star-lift of pairs skating.

I enjoy each of them, in different ways, but to me they really are apples and oranges, or perhaps cherries and lemons, and to be honest, I've always enjoyed pairs skating more, because it has fewer constraints and lends itself better to a combination of athleticism and artistry. YMMV, of course.

For superlative ice dancing, go to YouTube and put in "Torvill and Dean Bolero Sarajevo 1984".

For superlative pairs skating, again YouTube, put in "Gordeeva and Grinkov"

Btw, if you'd be interested in real-time or near-real-time geeking about skating during the upcoming 2018 Olympic Winter Games... by all means, look me up!

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-07 04:37 am (UTC)
acelightning: melting ice cube (ice)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
As I said, it's not something I'm seriously interested in. But if I happen to turn the TV on (something I do for maybe three hours a year) during the Winter Olympics, and I want to talk about skating, I'll definitely look you up!

(The strongest memory of figure skating I have happens to be Surya Bonaly doing standing back-flips during practice, and the announcer remarking that women were prohibited from using that move.)

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-07 08:25 am (UTC)
acelightning: microphotograph of a snowflake (snowflake)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
It seems to be a combination of misogyny and cowardice. Women aren't allowed to do things that take a lot of physical strength, because women skaters have to be graceful and dainty, not athletic and strong. And nobody's allowed to do things that look dangerous, because that might scare the audience.

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-07 08:55 am (UTC)
acelightning: purple starry sky (space)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
That is impressive! Although I wasn't afraid for them; my first thought was, "boy, that sure must have taken a LOT of rehearsing!"

I'm looking forward to seeing what zero-gee dancing will look like, although, thanks to the Robinsons, I have at least a faint clue :-)

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-07 09:48 am (UTC)
acelightning: purple starry sky (space)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
I remember Pilobolus! I saw them on assorted TV variety shows, back when such things existed, and I was very impressed with the way they reinvented the rules of movement.

And I also like OK GO. I was intrigued by their renting the Russian "vomit comet" plane, and learning how to perform. It's a good start :-)

BTW, the astronauts and cosmonauts who spend time aboard the ISS have invented new ways to play. I saw an IMAX documentary about them, and the group was having lunch, which consisted of flour tortillas with various spreads. They were sort of tossing the tortillas amongst themselves like frisbees, and as it spun by each one, he or she would try to take a bite out of it. Hilarity ensued :-)

Human creativity - ya can't beat it!

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-07 08:18 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
Surya Bonaly is awesome, and wonderfully athletic, and includes her signature back flip in nearly all of the Stars on Ice or other pro-level routines she skates. Gymnastics background for the win! Also, her coloring gives her a distinct advantage, in being able to look spectacular in colors that skaters with more typical Northern European skin tones would appear jaundiced in. :-)

Ekaterina Gordeeva has evolved into a lovely and expressive singles skater, hearkening back to the days of Peggy Fleming. Probably my all-time favorite women's champion, though, is Katarina Witt. The Olympics where she and Debi Thomas both skated routines to Carmen, were a delight to watch!

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-07 08:44 am (UTC)
acelightning: a bunch of hot peppers (hot peppers)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
In my snapshot visual memory of Surya Bonaly, she was wearing a skin-tight unitard, made of dark pewter-colored metallic material without any ornamentation at all. It had long sleeves, long legs, and a modest V-neck in front. In back,she was totally uncovered down to her waist. The "dark silver" color would look horrible on most pale Northern Europeans, but it was utterly striking on her.

Oh - I found a video of that, complete with backflips! Such strength, such style!

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-07 03:53 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
Truly gorgeous video, that! Must ... resist... temptation ... to go diving around on YouTube for more HD footage from Lillehammer, because that's among the best quality video I've seen from that Olympics. Bonus round (for me at least) that the commentary is in Korean; it's not nearly as distracting as commentary in English. :-) Also, loved the extra "just because she could" back flip as she picked up one of the bouquets of flowers tossed onto the ice after her exhibition routine. Strength and athleticism, yes!

For the epitome of world-class pairs' skating, check out this clip of Gordeeva and Grinkov (ages 19 and 23) from the pairs competition at the 1990 Goodwill Games, and a better one from 1994 in Tokyo; after their second gold medal win but before their third. I want to highlight three things in particular: the overhead lifts and throws, the speed at which they cover the ice (both of those, key differences between ice dancing and pairs skating)... and her hands. Compare her arm (and hand) movements to Bonaly's, and you can really see the difference that the Russian incorporation of ballet training into their ice skaters' regimens, makes. Bonaly has so much strength and power, but her hands just kind of flop around at the ends of her wrists, whereas Gordeeva's movements incorporate line and flow all the way out to her fingertips.
 
Edited (added second video link) Date: 2017-12-07 04:06 pm (UTC)

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-08 12:35 pm (UTC)
acelightning: melting ice cube (ice)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
In the Lillehammer footage, Bonaly very slightly bobbled the landing of her backflip during the routine. I got the impression she threw in another one with the bouquet just to demonstrate that she could do it perfectly - which she did, and very close to the boards, too.

Gordeeva and Grinkov are flawless performers. She's so tiny, compared to him! That makes possible those astonishing lifts, carries and throws, but it also means they must have to rehearse rigidly to perform the same moves separately but perfectly in synch.

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-08 04:33 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
Yeah, I saw the slight bobble on the first backflip but heck, she landed it on only one foot, and the fact that she can land it at all is still a source of wonder and delight!

Yes, Katia *is* tiny, and that does both facilitate some moves and raise the degree of difficulty for others. For a somewhat more size-matched pair, look to Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler from Canada, or USA's own Peter and Kitty Carruthers or Jenni Meno and Todd Sand. I believe that both members of the other pairs are still alive, whereas Katia was widowed in 1995, when Sergei collapsed on the ice during a practice, succumbing to a congential heart defect that nobody knew about. He was 28.

Nevertheless, *she* persists ... and has my utmost admiration for doing so.

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-09 07:32 am (UTC)
acelightning: purple glowing candle (candle)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
I didn't know that about Grinkov. But that solo performance was wrenchingly beautiful. He was there, skating with her.

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-09 08:17 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> He was there, skating with her. <<

You noticed that too, eh? Good on ya!

She confirmed that impression that we both have, in an interview later.

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-12 11:15 am (UTC)
acelightning: the face of the full Moon (Moon)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
And sometimes it seems as if the non-bodied partner is >< that close to crossing back to a physical state of being...

Re: stars on ice

Date: 2017-12-10 11:54 am (UTC)
acelightning: purple glowing candle (candle)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
I know. (I'm a Witch, and a Crone at that.) I also know about her remarriage and her second child, and both children's also headed for Olympic skating careers.

There's a movie that's either about to come out, or has just come out, about ice skating - specifically the feud between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. I daresay there's going to be a lot more media attention paid to skating in general for a little while.


celebrity / notoriety

Date: 2017-12-11 07:18 pm (UTC)
callibr8: (hodag)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
A movie about the Harding/Kerrigan feud? Oh, UGH. >_<

I'll be very surprised if there's anything good that comes out of that. I suppose it depends on who's making it, but I'm afraid it'll be something sensationalist and counterproductive in a similar vein as "50 Shades of Grey" was for the kink/BDSM community.

If I had a Jayne (Cobb) icon, tagged "You Done That Stitch Wrong", I'd use it for this comment. Ah well, limitations of the medium...

Re: celebrity / notoriety

Date: 2017-12-12 11:12 am (UTC)
acelightning: melting ice cube (ice)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
FWIW, I have absolutely no plans to see it...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 04:21 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
This is flat-out AWESOME.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-11-29 03:36 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Ooh, I love this one!

Also, Fifer chicks pecking playing cards. /Cute./

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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