GloPoWriMo – Song 28

For the Story Walker

I met an old spinner
‘neath the shade of the graht oak.
On the path, I was a beginner
when to me, these words she spoke:

Simply follow the story,
hold your ear to the song.
You’ll find no richer quarry,
and you’ll never stray wrong.

Wend your trek through the night,
sing your legend all the day.
You’ll discover dark is light
in the twists along the way.

The gold is in the telling
weave through peace, wind through war.
In the tale, we will be dwelling–
Story walkers live for lore.

Daily Prompt: “try your hand at a meta-poem of your own,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Poet’s Note: I have a guild on ESO called StoryWalkers, designed for those of us who love the lore! (We even have a library at our guildhouse where our collection of Shalidor’s volumes are nearly complete!) Our motto is “Read fast, play slow.”

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NaPoWriMo 2019

Forgotten Art: Giuliana – Ayden 2

A reply to: A letter from Ayden

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Hi, Ayden. Thanks for answering all my questions! Now I know lots about you!

What do you want to know about me?

What’s it like to have so many brothers and one sister?

I only have one brother, and I am the sister. I think I would like to have four brothers, especially if they were little. Then, it would be like having a club at home every day.

Now for the club report. I guess I should say, “Now for the Now! report!”

Now! Reporting for duty! Listen Now! It’s Now! Or Never! Would you like to be in a club called Never? When do we meet? Never. Where are you going? Never. That would be Nowhere. We could have a club called Nowhere Never Noway. Going to club? Noway! Where does it meet? Nowhere! When does it meet? Never.

Actually, it meets Now!

Anyway. So, I thought I would tell you about some of the other kids in the club besides you and me.

First, there is Fatima. I think you will like Fatima. The kids at school used to tease her because she has holes in her shoes. They called her “Rag-Foot.” And she wears a hijab which makes her look really cute. But the stupid-brains called her “Rag-Head.” So now they called her “Rag-Foot Rag-Brain.”

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I told them to stop and I sort of punched them. Well, not sort of. I punched them. One of them, I punched in the stomach really hard and it was all squishy! I hope that doesn’t make you mad at me. It was really fun! Then I realized maybe it’s stupid to think it’s fun to punch kids, even if they’re mean kids. So I said I was sorry. Because I was. I wrote each of the mean kids a letter. In the letter, I said that I had fun punching them. And maybe they had fun calling Fatima names. But just because punching them was fun, that didn’t make it right.

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And just because calling someone who has holes in her shoes and wears a hajib names might be fun, that doesn’t make it right. Because if what’s fun makes someone else sad, it’s not really fun tomorrow. It’s only fun today. Because tomorrow, you have to look at a sad kid, who might feel really bad, and that’s not fun.

But Fatima isn’t a sad kid anymore.

She’s happy.

After dinner, she and Billie Jang and Billie Jang’s mom and me meet up in the square. If you lived here, you could meet up in the square with us.

We have story contests. Fatima told a story about a girl who turned into a pumpkin.

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Billie Jang’s mom told a story about an artist who painted sunflowers.

Billie Jang’s mom also wears a hijab, but she calls it a scarf because she wears it for “artistic reasons” not “religious reasons.”

I think I wear my T-shirt with the plum blossoms on it for artistic reasons, but I wear the rubberbands for practical reasons.

Billie Jang says she wears orange overall-shorts for fun.

What do you like to wear, and do you wear anything for art or for practical or for religion?

I wish you lived in our city so you could play with us after supper. I would like to hear your stories that you tell!

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Later, Ayden! Do you have a nickname?

Bye,

Joo-jee

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Shift 31: Work

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When I look around YOTO, I feel so grateful. I can take a bath anytime I want.

I’ve got a kitchen. The fridge is stocked with food.

I’ve got a warm bathrobe I can wear, even on Sunday afternoon. And even though the place is home to eight of us kids, and we’ve always got counselors on-duty, I can still find a quiet place to sit and be alone.

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I want to give back. It’s been about four months, not counting summer when I was with Ted, and I’ve been taking the whole time.

I’m ready to give.

I told Aadhya that I wanted to get a job so I could start paying my room and board here.

She smiled. But I could see it wasn’t a “yes” smile.

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“Jazz,” she said, “It doesn’t work that way. We’re here for you, and the other kids. That’s our dharma. Your dharma is to continue your journey with your studies and your sports so that you can go to college. That’s your job right now.”

I told her I wanted to do more. She said I already do so much: cleaning, repairing stuff, making meals.

That’s nothing. That’s the business of life.

I’m a teenager. I’ve got loads of energy. I know I can do my studies, run track, help around here, and have a weekend job.

Aadhya kept saying no.

I kept the focus. I did all my regular homework and extra credit. I continued to train for track, which would be starting after winter break.

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I even helped out Nadja, tutoring her in Western Civ.

“I could give a rat’s a** about Aristotle’s rhetoric!” she said. “The Greeks destroyed my people!”

But we persisted and she learned it anyway.

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I stepped up when it came to helping out around YOTO. I started making rounds each morning, before the other kids got up, to see what needed doing. I like cleaning the place. It helps me remember how lucky I am to have a place to clean.

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One day, Aadhya said, “Are you still interested in a job?”

Of course I was.

“It’s not outside. It’s with us. And it doesn’t pay, but it helps a lot.”

That was OK with me, because if it paid, I’d give all the money back to YOTO anyway.

“I’m not interested in working for the money,” I explained. “It’s so I’m not a free-loader.”

My heart sort of broke when I said that. I never ever thought in my life that I would be a free-loader. I always thought I would always pay my way in life, giving back, not taking.

Aadhya got real quiet and looked at me.

“Are you ashamed?” she asked.

I didn’t really answer. But I guess that was my answer.

She went on for a long time about everything I do to contribute, and I sort of closed my ears when she started talking about how I didn’t do any of this myself, and how I should be proud of myself, and it’s not my fault. I closed my ears because I know that. I don’t know that it does all that good to think about it. I can think about it when I’m by myself, because then I won’t cry. Or if I do, I’m alone, so it doesn’t matter if I cry a little bit. I’ll stop after ten tears.

But when Aadhya was talking, I knew that if I started crying I would cry for a really long time, and I am not ready to do that. So I closed my ears. And then she stopped talking and looked at me.

“So I have a proposition to make,” she said at last. “Do you think you can help us out?”

The proposition was this: YOTO wants to do a big year-end fund-raising campaign, and their social media/communications director says that the best ways to raise money is through telling the stories of the kids that live here.

She wanted to know would I help. I thought she wanted me to talk to the communications person, who would write my story. But she meant for me to write it. And not only my story, but the stories of all the kids here.

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So that’s what I’m doing. It’s my new job, volunteer, for YOTO. And, if it helps to raise money for YOTO, then it pays back big-time.

I’ve decided I will start with my story. That will give me practice in writing. And then, after that, I’ll talk to Marquis and Nadja. We don’t have to use our names, but Aadhya wants us to have pictures to accompany each story.

“You’re all so damn good-looking,” she said. “Nobody can keep their preconceptions about youth without permanent residences when they look at your beautiful faces.”

I thought a lot about that: how looking in a face breaks down the preconceptions. That’s where a soul shines, and it’s hard to keep a prejudice when you can see a soul.

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