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Prompt titles—choose one or more below and compose a poem or story. Multiple submissions are welcome as well as submissions containing multiple titles.
The Girl Who Became a Bear; The Grinning Man; Delilah Blue and the Faulty Timepiece; The Crowd Whisperer; The Reversal of Nothing; A Welcome Betrayal; Prophetess in Silk; The Coven of Controversial Virtues; Shadows in the Water; The Minutiae of Stars.
Amid the shadows in the water of Topaz River
Are reflected the minutia of stars, and mysteries
Unsolved—including those yet to surface, for probing…
It had been a summer full of enigmatic characters
Slipping in and out of our town—and I would become
One of them, known as the Crowd Whisperer
Because I was acquainted with some of the principals.
Sharmalea Cruze was young, simpleminded, and fanciful.
Folks spoke of her as The Girl Who Became A Bear—for
Sharmalea insisted she could shape-shift into a silver-tip bruin.
Every Halloween she dressed in a tattered pink tutu,
And growled through a fanged bear mask.
Another denizen was Delilah Blue, older than anyone knew;
Usually pleasant, most likely suffering the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Poor Delilah was the target of teenagers who thought it great
Sport to ask her for the time, just to hear what crazy answer
She might offer as she peered at the faulty timepiece pinned
Above her lacy breast pocket or calico apron’s bib.
And there was the Grinning Man, who made his meager living
As a local handyman. Considered basically harmless,
Some were put off by his toothless mumbling—and that he
Gave his name as either “Abe” or “Jake”, depending on his mood.
The Prophetess was well-respected by all—men and women
Paused when she’d float through Main Street’s courtyard
Trailing lengthy silk scarves of sapphire, saffron, cerise…
Or any brilliant hue shot through with silver threads.
When the Dark Thing happened everyone expected
Her to divine its meaning and resolution—but even if she
Had such revelation, would she be bound to share it?
The fundamentalists deemed her gift one of what they
Referred to as, the Coven of Controversial Virtues—
For prophecy might well be blessing, or curse; and
Who’d really want to hear about the latter?
The day the Dark Thing happened began with a
Periwinkle dawn, pretty as you please—but sepia storm
Clouds rumbled as the alarm rang out: Emeraude and
Henry’s new baby was missing—just 10 days old, it was.
The townsmen suspended normal work, explored high
And wide; while the sheriff queried “Abe-Jake” and anyone
Else among the odd residents, and peculiar visiting strangers.
One week after Topaz River had already been searched,
The Prophetess intoned, “go back to the riverbank
On a Sunday afternoon”.
And I, the crowd whisperer, had begun to feel uncomfortable
Stirrings; neighbors were murmuring speculations,
Asking one another if they’d seen “so and so” lately.
Finding the baby was a tragic reversal of nothing; it didn’t
Restore her to her parents, bring her back to life.
When the babe was discovered in the arms of Sharmalea,
The bear-girl sat rocking its tiny corpse, and
Staring into the ripples of gurgling Topaz River.
Sorrow lay like fog upon the town.
Emeraude wept a bit at her child’s funeral, and
Told all who expressed the least curiosity that she’d
Forgiven Sharmalea the abduction.
No one believed murder was part of it.
Sharmalea had long yearned for a baby of her own, envied
Emeraude—who’d had 10 children. It must have been
An accidental suffocation, possibly dehydration.
I suppose only Prophetess and I know the sad secret
Emeraude confessed to her priest…that Sharmalea
Taking the baby was a welcome betrayal.
A tenth child was simply one too many for the exhausted
Mother, and financially burdened father.
…So maybe they’d made it easy for the bear-girl’s
Love-hungry heart to steal.
The shadows in the water likely hold the full tale.
©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.
Image credit: Pixabay
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