Hold Your Ground

anthony-garand-7rehTDIfR8o-unsplash

Photo: Anthony Garand on Unsplash

 

When the truth flees the sphere

Of those who power corrupts

And the lies become leaders’ way

To disrupt,

It behooves us to hold strong

To not let those confound

As we keep our eyes on

A true moral ground:

To be firm

To be kind

To keep light

In our mind,

And to not get swept up

In the feverish flow

Of those who prefer we

Give up and

Let go

Of core truths

And the law,

And forget how

Foreshadowed

In wisdom galore

Founders sought separation

Of powers before

And checks out to balance

Against tyrannical war,

Predicting the day

When ambition to rule

Would rise in someone

Who’d attempt to befool

And try to prop

Lies for a flop

And our constitution

For corruption

To swap.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: Ground

 

 

Heidi’s Hideout

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Heidihaus_in_Maienfeld.jpg

Photo:  commons.wikimedia.org

 

It was the last place she thought anyone would look for her.

Or the first. Depends.

If they knew the story of her grandmother, after whom she was named, then they’d surely make a beeline to the cottage. But most people did not know. Or forgot. And she herself hadn’t been particularly good at telling the story that as a child had made her feel bland and timid in comparison to her grandmother’s girlhood bravery and independence, and as an adult made her feel as if she was seeking to gain attention by association and not merit.

So when people asked: “Heidi, like the girl in the story?” she would just nod or shrug or at the most say, “perhaps, eh?”

She let her heritage become a secret.

Perhaps that will end up allowing her fresh air, away from everyone’s demands, at her great-great-grandpa’s ancient yet secluded Maienfeld house.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Maienfeld, Switzerland

 

A Net of Ents

Grimm AmitaAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

“I am not going in there!”

Maxim sighed. “We must. It’s the only way.”

Stringer shook his head. “That place is haunted. Ghosts and goblins and who knows. I bet all the creepy things from the Underworld hide here, too.”

“The Underworld isn’t real.”

Stringer gave his friend a searching look. Maxim’s voice sounded a bit less certain than Stringer would have liked it to.

“Why does it have to be us, anyway?” Stringer pouted. Every cell in his body told him to flee, to leave, to get as much distance as he can between himself and this brooding, mossy, drippy, dark, tangled, creepy forest.

“Because.” Maxim lifted his chin, exposing a scrawny neck that had only gotten more birdlike in recent weeks. “Look, I’m scared, too, but even Mathilde said it was the only way.”

“She’s just an old crone,” Stringer scratched at a scab before glancing around guiltily and lowering his voice (one never knew if she might be listening and he did not fancy ending up in a cauldron), “and a witch.”

“Exactly.”

Stringer sniffed. He hated it when Maxim got the last word and even more when Maxim was right.

Mathilde was gnarly and bent and more than a little odoriferous (whether it was lack of bathing or the miasma of whatever it is she must be concocting in that iron pot that was forever perched over the fire, he didn’t know and didn’t dare ask). She was the oldest person he’d ever seen. Indeed if anyone would know about the procedure for removing spells, it would be her … and she had been clear that the one they sought to have lifted was beyond her skill.

“Only Ents,” she’d croaked and hacked up something Stringer was certain was more than just phlegm. “Ten of them. If there are even that many left. Only they can undo an enchantment net. And only if they agree, which they don’t always. Best keep your wits about ya when ya enter Old Growth. Tear a leaf and ya’d well end up lacking a finger.”

She’d stirred the pot, giving the quaking boys a full view of her three fingered hand. “That is,” she’d added, “if ya exit there at all.”

The whole way to the ancient forest, Stringer and Maxim avoided discussing the meaning or implications of Mathilde’s words. Giving it voice was too scary and they were too excited. The hunger had taken someone in every house, and winter was poised to enter empty pantries. All they could think of was what would follow if the hex broke: bowls of broth and bread and beans and oats.

Their stomachs spoke louder than their worries.

Now the edge of the forest stopped them cold.

“Did you see her hand?” Stringer tried.

Maxim nodded.

“Do you think …?”

Maxim’s tunic rose as he shrugged. “Maybe it was frostbite.”

“Yeah.” Better that. Frostbite was awful and utterly non-magical.

“Though …” Maxim’s voice shook, and still he bent resolutely to tuck the edges of his tunic into his leggings and retie his belt so it did not flap. “Best make certain we don’t accidentally trip or tear a leaf or snap off anything.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Ten, Ent, Net

 

 

 

A Map Of Reminiscing

timothy-holmes-MJHyqdJ0rrw-unsplash

Green Gardens trail in Gros Morne National Park, NL (Timothy Holmes on Unsplash)

 

They’d come to Gros Morne every summer. On “Dad Week.” Camp in a tent that always leaked but Dad wouldn’t replace, every patch and glued seam a map of reminiscing. They’d spend days on the meadows, walk the volcanic beach, go down to Old Man’s Cove.

Sal loved all of it. Even the chill and wet and constant hunger (for there was always more Dad aspired to catch than what he’d actually manage to). Sal never complained. He’d give up everything to breathe the ocean and make up stories about pirates in the coves. He’d even downplay the painful rash and sneezing (they never did find which wild-flower he was allergic to, and he didn’t want to, afraid Mom would say he couldn’t go).

Erosion closed his favorite trail, but not his memories.

He gazed at the ocean and wondered if Dad, whose mind was fading, still had his.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

 

 

Delicately

Delicate AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

She flitted gently by his head.

The slight bow noted, the sorrow that was there

But perhaps not heard.

 

She knew he had to hold himself up

All this time

That it was the only way

He’d learned.

And yet she could discern the hidden

Effort that it took

To rise against the gravity,

In times where drought of hope

Returned

Again and again and again.

 

She understood the energy required for

Making the Herculean appear effortless,

To constantly correct

The wobble under

Winds and strain.

 

She hovered for a moment

Letting a space of permission

Manifest

Before she landed, feather-weighted and,

Delicate

On his chest.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Delicate in 106 words

 

Pharaohsaurus

Pharaohsaurus NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

“It looks like a pharaoh,” the boy commented.

“Hmm …” the girl leaned her elbows on the display case to take a photo. Dinosaurs weren’t Pharaohs, but her little brother was obsessed with anything Egyptian, so it was easier to agree. Took long enough to drag him out of that wing of the museum and into what she really wanted to see.

“Do you think the pharaohs saw one of these and it gave them the idea?”

She sighed. “There were no dinosaurs left at the time of pharaohs.”

“It’s not what I meant!” His nudge made her take a photo of a piece of plaster instead of the fossil bones. “Maybe they found something like this one.”

“Stop it!” She hissed. They’d be told to leave if they fought.

“Sorry.” He was, only sort of. “Is it called a ‘pharaohsaurus’?”

She rolled her eyes.

“Well, it should!”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Museum in 147 words

 

 

Taking Tea

coffee or tea AmitaAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

“Every pot can be

A teapot

But not all of them can make

Sufficiently

Good tea,”

He said, and fussed

And set the bag

To rest

On the edge

To breathe

For me.

“I’ll take coffee,”

Said the mother,

Contrary just because

She had the right

To be.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Teapot in 48 words

 

 

 

Where It Broke Out

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“This is where it broke out.”

Bender shaded his eyes from the glare and squinted at the black patch on the meandering snake of ice.

“Tis a mighty small one, then,” he noted.

Roman frowned. “That hole is bigger up close. And anyway, you should’ve seen the length of it.”

Bender shrugged and took a few steps closer, daring Roman to do the same. The ice crunched under their feet, a staccato to their accelerating heartbeat.

They would be punished for walking here. The Winter Gods had taken too many who strayed onto what masqueraded as solid ground but was in fact bog fairies lurking beneath frosted fronds. Even in summer these flats were dangerous, full of sinkholes and swampy ponds that sucked at your feet and then leeched out your blood. Children were outright forbidden from entering the bog.

Which made the space all the more alluring to boys who had to prove bravery and test the lore.

For there was a boy, the stories told, who got swallowed by a sinkhole only to be adopted by the creek and made half-human and half-snake. He could breathe both in the air and underwater, and came to hunt in winter, when other snakes were slowed by cold.

Some had said they’d seen it, slithering among the silver plants by dusk and dawn. Some even claimed to have escaped its grasp — for the half-boy-half-snake had arms that ended in sharp claws held close to it’s lower body as it undulated silently toward its prey. One man had four parallel scars upon his calf that he said were the proof of his escaping the creature.

Roman said he’d seen it, slipping out of the ice.

Bender never could trust Roman’s sight, influenced as it tended to be by what his friend wished to see but often did not. Still, to say so would be showing him a coward … so … Bender took another step, crunching deeper into the foreboding land.

Behind him, Roman breathed out clouds of exhalation accentuated by shorter puffs of terror. “Perhaps it had gone back in already,” he whispered.

“Yeah,” Bender gasped in barely masked relief. “Must have. After all, it is almost full light. Nothing for it but for us, too, to head back.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto prompt

In Between

walk at sunset

Photo: D. Freedman

 

In between the wish for more

And need for less

She paused to let the breeze pass

Through

And transform her

From the rushing steps that never seem to

Gain foothold

On life,

To the tranquility of what is

Yet

to be left

Behind.

 

 

 

For the dVerse poetry quadrille challenge: tranquility