Although convoluted descriptions of place are so outdated, a character’s response to the environment helps bring a story to life. After all, if a species doesn’t adapt, it dies out. (I do hope Polar bears find a new food or a different way of hunting). How well has the protagonist adapted to her present surroundings? How will she cope with a new habitat?
In the spirit of someone who learns to like where she is, I offer two poems.
I love the afternoon shadows of fall.
Long, dark fingers slide over grass
and trees like slivers of time passing.
Sunlight glows more warmly in contrast
brightening the yellows of sunflowers and
black-eyed Susans. Shadows linger
and creep closer to encircle my house.
The sun starts to leave, pink and red
between the slender black trunks of
pines dropping needles on roofs.
I want to reach out and touch the deep
velvet of shadows, shape-shifting and
fleeting. So easy to blend with this light-
time changing and leaving. I could
merge with this moment, be still, and not fight
the stark, cold black and white of nature’s dying.
And, adapted from an Indian folk tale,
COYOTE FOLLOWS INSTRUCTIONS
Deer chew moss and clover near the river
coyote remarks on their coats and asks the doe
“how do you make your children so attractive?”
she ignores him and takes her kids to a thicket
still needing a reply, he skips around the group
finally she sighs saying that she digs a hole
surrounds it with leaves from the silverberry
kindles the twigs and as they pop
sparks makes colored patches on her kids’ coats
coyote runs home and tells his children to dig
the smallest shiver as he pushes them into the pit
“don’t worry, you’ll soon be pretty”
the fire melts their flesh until it shrinks
their teeth show as though they are smiling
he tips water on the flames and calls his children
pulls an ear of one and the tail of another
the parts come away in his paw
as he kicks the ashes the bodies crumble
coyote springs up and down, rushes to find the doe
not seeing her, he sets light to the shrubbery
the dry bracken and wood creak
he says the deer are crying
I wanted the lines of poetry to be single spaced but no way would the site let me do that. Lines should look like prose or be new paragraphs. That's the rule. In an effort to save space, I cut out two prose paragraphs. Sometimes, you have to compromise.