A Wrinkle In Rhyme Poem by Larry Lynn

A Wrinkle In Rhyme

A Wrinkle in Rhyme

1. Mrs. Whatsit

It was indeed a dark and stormy night
when I, wrapped in a quilt, sat on my bed
house shaken by strong winds both left and right --
strange dreams and premonitions in my head.
My brothers, twins, chastised me for the fray
at school my anger caused -- I am too bold --
I broke his nose for things he shouldn't say
about my brother Charles: not dumb nor old.
My kitten sleeps his life away, poor dear --
but not my Fortinbras, my dearest friend,
my guardian who knows no human fear
and would with his my life and Charles defend.
A tramp, they say, was wandering the streets:
a menace who struck in my heart a fear
transcending more than just some stolen sheets
if he should come unwelcome to appear
before my helpless self to cut my throat,
or worse, to leave my mother all alone
to cope with Charles, my father still remote
somewhere out there in places still unknown
to man or beast no word from him at all.
A year or more has passed since last he wrote,
but Mother waits in vain for him to call --
her hopes undaunted, faithfully afloat
on prayers and dreams as thin as aether air.
So still we wait, the brilliant Charles in tow:
He will come home, we hope for in a prayer --
but, Charles is sure: He always seems to know.
Then Mother spoke with words: a sweet refrain
that flowed with love, a comfort to my soul,
a balm that eased the agony and pain
that often slipped my grasp without control.

I asked her why my actions seemed so odd,
if I were weird or Charles were really dumb.
Her silent gaze affirmed we were not flawed
in any way, but closer had become.
The tramp arrived and Forty let us know
that someone lurked in darkness near the door.
It was a woman dressed from head to toe
in rags of motley colors and much more.
This was no demon coming out of hell.
It was just Mrs. Whatsit -- that's her name --
My brother knew about her -- knew her well --
but told us nothing of her all the same.
Charles asked her why she had to take the sheets
instead of coming here where they were free.
She answered after she was full of eats:
"You need them more than I do; don't you see? "
To which she added from us one request:
"Please, take my boots; my feet are soaking wet.
I just flew in to take a moment's rest
and see my Charlie, dear; I am no threat
to you or yours, the twins, or you, my lamb --
there really is a thing called tesseract!
My mother swooned and leaned against the jamb
in silent contemplation of the fact.
Then, Mrs. Whatsit disappeared in haste
to fly back to the haunted country walls
which Charles traversed when Fortinbras he chased
too playful, heedless of his master's calls.

2. Mrs. Who

It was no dream though oft I wished it were.
The twins missed out: they took up time and space
with discourse filled with rage, and angrier
that no one told them of the haunted place.
"A happy medium is what you need, "
said Sandy as he asked for Syrup, please!
Then Dennys added that I could succeed
in helping Charles adjust to what he sees
and knows before it happens. No one knows
what forces make him work these wondrous things.
But, Charles, at five, has intellect that grows
far faster than his maturation brings.
At school more trouble rained upon my head.
I sassed my teacher rudely; Jenkins, too.
They said my father left, or, he was dead.
No one has heard from him: it must be true.
My anger seethed; my rage emerged unchecked.
They said I couldn't face that cruelest fact
that father left me, guilty of neglect.
But Mother knew something: the tesseract.
Another woman? How preposterous!
I thought. She's beautiful. He would be mad
to leave a woman such as her. Doubtless,
they all were wrong. Their attitudes were bad.
With heavy heart, I turned myself to Chuck
who knew, as always, what I didn't know.
My life since Father left was all amok.
Charles knew. He said to me two words: "Let's go! "
He led; I followed through the dismal woods
with Fortinbras, my trusting, faithful hound,
to save the woman with the stolen goods.
"I wonder if the others are around, "
Charles said, I asking what on earth he meant.
He said, "Two more. Her friends are living there."
We reached the door, on hanging hinges, bent
and broken, searching for them everywhere.
But, first, a stranger straggled in the dark
with Forty chasing him in hot pursuit.
I called him off and told him not to bark
or bite until we clearly spied the brute.
We circled him and threatened him with death
unless he told the nature of his plight.
He did -- then recognized the idiot,
the moron midget who was not quite right.
So, Charles let out a string of sophist lines
that stunned the lanky beanpole to the max;
he shuddered that he misread all the signs,
was taken in and told he should relax.
First there were three: Chuck, Fortinbras and me.
Now Cal O'Keefe joined up; he made us four.
We sauntered to the house so we might see
the Whatsit hag while Who, beyond the door,
Was sitting, round and plump, sheets on her lap,
with needle sewing deftly, sharp, and sure
while spouting, first in foreign tongues, recap
in English, after: adages demure.
"Who's that? " we asked, but Charles was quicker, said,
"Mrs. Who, you know this guy, O'Keefe? "
She nodded with approval, twinkling, red
with blush. "Like you, he feels his share of grief,
And he is able, tall -- a freer will,
like yours, a match, not like the twins or Meg.
Ab honesto virum bonum nihil
deterret: for honor's sake, you can't reneg.
I stood amazed at Whatsit and the Who
while Cal and Chuck took me and Forty back
towards home to make the plans for what to do
to fill the void: the father that I lack.

3. Mrs. Which

We walked all four on silent, dampened ground
through woods as Cal took gently in his hand
my arm, protecting me, from harm profound.
I did not ask and he did not demand.
At home we ate. Cal filled a deep abyss,
an endless pit, no bottom yet in sight.
He needed strength to keep that face of bliss
intact from dangers lurking in the night.
I looked into his eyes -- a bright sky blue,
like Father's eyes, and handsome, like my dad.
The eerieness was weird -- and scary, too,
the feelings, strange -- like nightmares that I had.
Then Mother fretted, bothered by the hag
who mentioned tesseract so casually
that breathless -- how she felt her efforts sag --
attempts to make the past reality
renewed, her loving spouse returned to her
from distant lands or space or galaxies
remote from human minds far abler
than mine to understand and put at ease.
I saw the tears and knew much more was wrong
than she would say; but, comforting, she cried
her silent prayers that touched my heart too long
immersed in years of agony. I tried
to bury all my fears in angry fits
of rage that caste the iron shield above
my brother Charles whose brilliance and his wits
gave strength to me: his way of showing love.
My mother saw what different qualities
made Charles look strange -- to Father: only new,
and I was blessed with friendly prodigies
to help me with the task I had to do;
for Calvin was my strength and Charles, my heart,
with Fortinbras my faithful canine friend.
No force on earth could tear this bond apart
though Mom resisted hoping time would send
her loving husband back to her again.
We talked as friends, not mother to her child,
but daughter asking: Let me share the pain?
No, dear, it's mine; your anger is too wild.
Then Cal returned, Chuck Wallace fast asleep
(while Calvin read, Genesis by request) .
He asked to take a walk (the talk too deep)
to let our minds, our hearts, take needed rest.
The silence of our steps upon the earth
moonlit beneath the stars that listened in
was broken by his questions of the worth
of rumors flying, gossip, lies, the din
that wrenched the certainty that Mother had
that Father would return, his job all done,
the secret mission cutting us from Dad
complete: the six of us again as one.
He took my glasses off, to my surprise,
and placed his gentle hands upon my face;
he saw my wretched soul and "dream-boat" eyes,
and wiped the tears that flowed in his embrace.
The shocking face of Charles appeared from deep
within the shadows suddenly. He spoke:
"Let's go; it's late. There is no time for sleep.
Then from the darkness, out, two eyeballs broke
beside Charles Wallace, Who was mumbling
while o'er the wall came Whatsit in a huff
through branches, caught, her hat, while tumbling
heels over head. Were these two crones enough?
No way. Somewhere above, not here nor there,
flew Mrs. Which whose squeaking voice, unclear,
apologized for being partial air
and part of something else that pierced our ear.

4. The Black Thing

It was a dark and stormy night, again,
the winds still raging, frenzied, angry, mad
as if they tried to kill the light, in vain,
that burned as hope that I would find my Dad.
I screamed for Calvin, loudly; he was gone,
and Charles was nowhere near; Which screamed to me
"Bbee qquiett, ggirll! " She meant we're not alone.
My body disappeared. The enmity
Of blackness put my self to sleep, I thought,
no sense or feeling running through my limbs,
alone, and helpless, in the darkness, caught
by some dark essence without pseudonyms.

Then Charles's voice emerged, a tainted quip,
from in the light through which I couldn't reach
his hand. "Well, Meg. That sure was quite a trip! "
I saw him, clearly, heard is trembly speech
but could not cross the light that shone between.
Their visions shimmered as reflections do
in water, moving, deep, though crystalline,
until the sudden crash that sent me through
as if the wall of light were porous glass.
Charles hugged me strongly in his baby's arms
while Calvin watched, in awe, the fields of grass,
the Spring-like breezes, flowers, Nature's charms,
the fragrance, delicate, that wrapped itself
around (an aura, heavenly) ourselves,
a mountain looming high, myself an elf,
a dwarf, upon a stage where science delves
into existences it understands
no more than we who live from day to day
washed up on distant shores like flowing sands
that live and die with nothing more to say.
The witches: Whatsit, Who, and Which were thrilled
by what they did until a voice recalled
them to their task at hand and coldy willed
that they should feel ashamed, reviled, appalled
at all these pranks not worthy of their ranks.
To action little, less to words inclined,
Who quoted Horace, waiting for the thanks
not coming, not from Charles, who stood behind
with frowning eyes and reprimanding tongue:
Don't quote so much! to which Ms. Whatsit said,
"She must do that. Since she was very young,
she read and memorized-- (it's in her head) --
philosophers, great thinkers from the past.
But, Charles knew that. Ms. Which chimed in with more:
Aadd levvitty ttoo ttraggedyy, aatt llasstt,
tthe ppainn wwiill ffeel ffaarr lless thhann wwass bbefforre.
Then Calvin asked: "What will become of us? "
"We have a job, " Ms. Whatsit said to him,
"to find a man long lost in space. We must
be quick before too late. The task is grim."
"Where are we now? I do not know this place."
"It's Uriel in Malak's galaxie, "
she said with words from sad and somber face.
"to you, indeed, a foreign entity."
"Oh, no, " said Calvin. "Oh, yes! " she replied.
"Spiral nebula -- Messier 101."
"I don't believe it." Calvin still denied
the strangest facts about a foreign sun.
Then I recalled the fabled tesseract.
It was a wrinkle, or a crease, in time --
not speed of light or other inane act.
"We tesser here to there, a paradigm
of mystery through which no words describe
contentedly just how we go and come."
"Be patient, Meg, " Ms. Whatsit dared proscribe
to me. She knew my fears: what made me glum.
"I can't, " I yelled, with anger in my voice.
My fury surged. "That's just the way I am! "
Who said, " To help your dad, you have no choice."
"Your Charles will tell you all. Go, see him. Scram!
He did, but I felt something strange inside
like where we were on Uriel to rest --
Whatsit, Who, and Which were talking -- aside.
I wondered, feared: anxiety, I guessed.
Which noticed me, told Whatsit and Ms. Who
to show us what gave both of them great fear:
Sshow tthem, Whatsit, hhow tthe cchannge iin yyou
wwill hhelp tthem bbringg ttheir llong-llosst fattherr nnear.
Bbut, Wwho, yyou, wwait! Llet Whatsit ddo itt ffirstt.
We saw the metamorphosis take place:
Her body changed into a horse -- immersed
with all the equine parts except the face
with torso, arms and chest, a wondrous man
and beast in one, all white with rainbow wings.
"Ggett onn! " said Which, "all tthrree aas bbestt yyou ccann."
We did and marvelled at the awesome things
Like riding on what once was Ms. Whatsit --
woman, strange, with stranger friends, now, a horse
upon which we three rode, I must admit,
onto a nightmare's terrifying course.
We climbed through clouds and upward through the air
huge rocks below, great mountains rising high
while Whatsit strained her multi-colored pair
of wings pressing thinner atmosphere by
breathing deeply, gasping as her heavy
laden load did. "Take the flowers: hold them
close to suck the breath they have so amply
stored in petals, leaves and hollow stem."
We did, flew on to reach the mountain peak
where shone in silver brilliance there a disk --
a moon of Uriel, in darkness bleak,
a shadow, blackness forming, deep and brisk.
The shadow loomed far blacker than the night
stars hidden in its terrifying fold
that left in opposition wondrous light
repelled, the body shivering and cold.
They all descended to the grassy field
where first this flight took off to meet the dark.
"Tthat is yyourr ffathher's ennemyy, " revealed
Ms. Which with eerieness in her remark.

5. The Tesseract

I cried while Charles stood by me all too white
till Calvin's arms approached; I bolted out
enveloped by Ms. Whatsit's wings: a sight
of comfort pouring love, dispelling doubt,
despair this hopeless trial would prevail
with Father lost in some dark wordless thing.
"We have to tesser soon and without fail
to get behind the dark that sorows bring: "

"Experiencia es la madre
de la ciencia, " at once said Who;
By tessering our will -- there is a way
to bring your faithful father back to you.
"I do not know what tesser means, " I said
to Who and Whatsit who both looked at Chuck.
"He knows, " they said. "The concept's in his head.
Just ask him. He will tell -- if you're in luck."
"You understand the cube, the square and line? "
I said I did. He said they were the three
dimensions: space. "The fourth is time. Assign
the fifth to tesseract." "It's Greek to me, "
I offered in response. But, then, I thought,
"I think I understand." The moment passed.
I turned to Calvin saying that he ought
to understand. He did -- "... but not so fast
as Charles does, " shyly he confessed to me.
I asked Whatsit if we could all hold hands.
She looked confused. "We never tried with three
together all at once. The high demands
of tessering require that just one
of us should cross the gap. -- Well, we can try.
But, we'll go first. You follow when we've gone
ahead." They vaporized into the sky.
We stopped in two-dimension space too late
for me to be much more than flattened form,
my voice a shadow and my body slate --
pressed hard, my breath sucked out, my heart still warm,
until we tessered more where nothing grew.
There Calvin stood my hand still clasping his
while Charles indignant told Whatsit and Who,
especially Which, "That was some trip! Gee whiz,
you almost got us killed! " To which Which gave
sincere apologies. Ms. Whatsit seemed
no more the horse and man but now the grave
and ragged woman whose bright face still gleamed
with loving kindness. Then, Charles Wallace asked,
"Where are we now? " "Orion's belt to see
what Earth looks like from way up here, unmasked."
"When can we go back home? " I anxiously
inquired of Ms. Whatsit, too concerned.
She told me all was well back there. "Don't fret.
We wrinkled up your mother's time. She earned
a break today. She'll never know, my pet,
that we had tessered space as well as time.
You should be back before you truly left,
unless -- our essences become sublime.
If so, then everyone will be bereft."
"This is a wretched place, " I thought. "No life,
no green, no flowers, trees -- just cold, grey rock
that fills my mind and heart with bleakest strife.
Perhaps, I'm suffering from tesser shock."
The land was flat -- except a massive mound
protruded upward with a dismal cave,
an open mouth carved deeply in the ground,
that could have been, for all I knew, a grave.
Ms. Whatsit said, "A Happy Medium
lives there and works. A jolly one is she
who is a part of our consortium;
she laughs and brings out all the best in me."
Through Ms. Whatsit the Medium saw us,
well-introduced, with curtsies, one and all.
Ms. Whatsit said, "They must see Earth. Focus
on their planet. Look through the crystal ball."
The Medium, reluctantly complied.
"Iff rressponssible ppeoplle ddo not doo
ssomethingg abboutt thee unnppleassanntt oness, ttriedd,
therre willl nno llonggerr bee pplleasanntt thinggss too
llookk att, " said Who. The woman held the ball.
"Que la terre est petite à qui la
voit des cieux! How big down there -- from here: all
looks very small, " she said in her patois.
As I looked in, raced to the galaxies,
the Milky Way and Mars, I thought I saw.
Then came into our view too hazily
the Earth through fog and mist. I looked with awe
and sorrow at the tragedy. I felt
the darkness from bright Uriel, the Thing
we feared from out beyond Orion's belt,
reach out to choke us all, to claw and cling
to all our hopes to make our Earth a place
where Light beats down and buoys up our pride,
to help us to destroy the evil face
that lurks beyond the dark and dwells inside.

6. The Happy Medium

We looked some more: the Darkness seemed to writhe
till Light burst through and killed the evil Black
Hole with its poison cut, as with a scythe,
and drove the horrid Nothingness aback.
Charles asked Ms. Whatsit what the Light once was
before it reached the terror of the Dark.
She said it was a star with Nature's laws
that gave its life: forever left its mark,
on Darkness, Evil, in the blackest night,
a flash of hope, of love, to keep intact
the Earth, and those who want to keep it right
and beautiful -- the care it sorely lacked.
Charles, then, looked dauntlessly into the eyes
of Whatsit, knowing well before she knew:
"You, too, were once a star, as I surmise,
to do what only you can help us to? "
She nodded with the quiet answer, Yes!
as Charles leaned close to her, without remiss,
and hugged her neck, as if, with love, to bless
the words he heard, and touched her with a kiss.
"There have been many stars in years gone by.
The artists, poets, writers cast their light
to fade away, like us, as stars must die.
The three of you are stars to make things right."

The Medium fell fast asleep at once
with snores that shook the cavern walls within
as if they were assaulted battlements.
I asked a hundred questions to begin
the search for Father and what plans we'd make --
But, Whatsit said, "Come, let her sleep a bit."
At once, the Medium arose: "Forsake
me not without at least goodbye, you twit! "
I thought we all should have a bite to eat.
"How long is it since last we ate the stew? "
I asked myself. "We need our strength complete
to fight the Dark and start our lives anew."
I wanted more. I had to see my home,
how mother fared, and Calvin's mother, too.
Ms. Whatsit heartily agreed. "To roam
about by tessering is hard on you
especially when you're not two billion years
of age like us. Go on! Where is the harm? "
Calvin went first, a scene that caused my tears
to shed. An ancient woman on a farm,
toothless gums and straggled hair, unkempt,
a lethal weapon -- wooden spoon -- in hand
was screaming loudly in a vain attempt
to force her children, both, by her command
to clean the horrid mess she left behind.
I took brave Calvin's shaking hand in mine
to comfort and protect: "Blind lead the blind, "
I thought. "I want my sun in him to shine."
We turned to Mrs. Murry in her den --
my mother, hopeful for her love's return
with paper, constant motion of her pen,
the Words by Heart she hoped her love would yearn
wherever he was lost, marooned, or dead.
Fierce anger seethed and steamed away the tears
that flowed not for the joy but pain instead
my heart and soul endured so many years
of wrenching torture: father lost inside;
my mother sad; my brother mocked as if
he were an idiot; I can't abide
it more. My anger burned. My body, stiff
as hardened oak, stood rigidly and watched
the scene at Calvin's house. The anger turned
against that beast too sickly and debauched
to take from him the love for her she spurned.
"Let's go, " I screamed. "There's much we have to do, "
The woman cried, "Oh dear, I've made you sad."
I said, "The tears are not because of you.
I have no time for fear when I am mad."
The Happy Medium said, "Kiss my cheek
before you go; it will give you good luck
against the evil Dark and make it weak.
And now a kiss from you, my darling Chuck,
then you, dear Calvin -- aahhh! That was soooo good,
my red-head friend; you have so much to learn
of life -- but you are strong and smart. You would
be indispensible. I must adjourn.
She fell asleep at once. "To Camazotz! "
Ms. Whatsit yelled. "Be strong, dear Meg. You'll need
your anger later. Strong emotion blots
out forces, dark and deadly, plants the seed
of light to brighten life, to give you hope."
"I see, " I said. A sudden coldness swept
me into Nothingness, an envelope
in time and space, as if we three had stepped
into another zone. "Is Father here? "
I asked. "He is, " Ms. Whatsit said, her voice
a whisper fading far. "We'll still be near
though we three cannot go with you. The choice
is yours: to fight. But take these gifts along:
to Meg, your anger; Charles, your joyful youth;
but heed me well: Sometimes you can be wrong.
You know not everything. It is the truth
that sometimes seems a lie. To Calvin -- read
The Tempest. Therein lies your strength, a hint
somewhere in rhyme. And, Meg, in time of need,
take these, my special glasses. I can quint
for now: some bats are not so blind as I.
Do NOT use them unless as last resort."
Ms. Which gave us her final words. "Ally
yourselves as one; do not let fear distort
your sensibilities. And, Charles, beware
your arrogance, beware your fitful pride.
Both may betray you, make you want to dare
the Darkness that can suck you deep inside.
A fool is not afraid." She disappeared.
Ms. Which had told them, "Go into the town,
but stay together. Be not commandeered
to going in or turning upside down
where reason says Go straight or Look around."
Poor Calvin was afraid, said, "Let's go back! "
I told him, "No. This strange place will astound
you; just look down each street, each cul-de-sac.
They're all the same, each bouncing ball, each house
except for one: a frantic woman screams,
a child clinging, flailing at her blouse.
This takes routine ideas to the extremes."
"Let's go back, now! " he said again. Charles rushed
up to the open door with ball in hand.
The woman saw Charles paperless and pushed
him out of sight as if by some command.
Another boy upon a motorbike
stopped Charles to ask him who he is and where
he came from, why he wasn't as alike
as all the others were. He could compare
our actions, looks, ideas to that of IT
and see that we came from another place.
The Centers of Intelligence permit
no differences. It is a foul disgrace
to be unique. But we must find out more
to find where Father is to rescue him,
return him to the home he knew before
he wandered here where prospects are so grim.

7. The Man with Red Eyes

The great hall loomed ahead with marble, green,
on walls and floors. The blank wall stood ahead,
an icy cold immensity, pristine.
It vanished, opened to a room outspread
with techno-data-recovery things,
machines that give and take commands from IT,
the force that generates all happenings,
assumes the pain, to which all things submit
without a care; for those who don't must die.
Beyond the farthest wall set on a chair
a head with light above each reddened eye
ablaze spoke with a voice from anywhere.
To Charles he was a trick for halloween,
to Calvin, something more, a horrid beast
who had the strength of mind to intervene
and hypnotize those who resisted least.
Charles lashed out with an energetic thrust
that seemed to have no real effect on IT.
The IT responded, "You must have more trust
in me. I am invincible to wit
or guile, trickery. Brute force won't do
at all. I am the spirit of the mind.
You will submit to me to live anew
the doubt-filled life you chose to leave behind.
Charles let himself be drawn inside of IT.
I tackled him. His head slammed on the floor.
I warned him dazed and still in shock: "Just sit! "
The IT rebuked us all: "I do abhor
such acts of violence. It's time to eat
some special foods that you may want to think
are tasteless like the sand. But, turkey meat
is what it is once you get past the brink

of artificiality. It's good
for you. First you, dear Charles. Come into me
and feed upon the feast of healthy food.
There is no pain or suffering. You'll see."
"To go or not to go -- that is the quest, "
Charles thought out loud. He said, "I must.
There is no other way. I am the best.
My mind is strong. To IT I can adjust
far better than you, Meg, or, Calvin, you."
The red eyes of the man remained upon
the face of Charles and drowned his eyes of blue
in Darkness. Suddenly, my Charles was gone!

8. The Transparent Column

He had been drawn within; Charles was the same
in every way except the eyes: the black
was swallowed by the blue, an azure flame.
Cal's strength was not enough to keep him back.
He was convinced this is Utopia
where thoughts were all in IT'S complete control.
Converting us became his mania
demanding that we follow through the hole
in time and space as Camazotz was known,
where those who could not let their souls reform
were put to sleep by IT and left alone
to die because they did not fit the norm.
"The Happy Sadist makes for us the rules, "
said Charles as if he lived there all along.
"IT gives our minds great peace and all the tools
we need to live in harmony. No wrong
can co-exist with us. Here, we can live
without concern, for IT takes care of us."
"But, no one's happy here, " I said. "They give
their thoughts to IT without a fuss.
That is no way to spend the only life
we have to live." My Charles was somewhere, gone.
We crossed the wall like butter with a knife
and saw encased beyond a glassy stone,
a column clear and hard and cold like ice,
the figure of a man so old and grey
he reeked of death in this false paradise.
I shouted, "Father! Come! Let's go away! "

9. IT

I ran to him and slammed into the glass
and Charles just laughed, an act he wouldn't do
if he were Charles, I thought, and sighed, "Alas! "
I hurled myself at Charles as Cal would do,
but felt his fist slam through my gut and gasped
with terror. "Margaret, you must join me
in IT at once." He spoke, a voice that rasped
emerging from within an entity
that was not Charles but evil in his place.
Then Cal remembered from The Tempest's lines
and looked with cool élan at Charles's face
and quoted something about cloven pines.
Charles shivered just a bit, but Cal fell short.
My brother slivered back beyond the shield
for which I then recalled a last resort:
the glasses of Ms. Whatsit I concealed.
I rushed against the glass again and passed
right through into my Father's rigid arms.
Enwrapped around him, both of us, at last,
emerged with help from Mrs. Whatsit's charms.
To Father, Charles was like a stranger, lost,
unrecognized and adamantly pert,
abusive, rude. That was such precious cost
to pay for leaving us alone and hurt.
All four of us plod on with Charles in charge
up to the Central Center to the beat
of rhythmic pulsing, powerful barrage
of throbbing light and purple-colored heat.

I felt the difficulty in my chest,
my breath depleted, anquish, and the pain
of being flattened out, ripped from the rest
before the massive palpitating brain,
the Thing they called the IT. It ebbed and flowed
in rhythmic harmony with all my heart
beats pounding to it's tune. "I could explode, "
I thought, "unless with rage I can outsmart
that brain. I need some non-poetic form --
something I can recall -- ahh -- more or less
like menu items, speeches that conform
to nothing -- like The Gettysburg Address!
Alike and equal are two different things!
That revelation came with suddenness,
as inspiration as an artist brings
to canvas, song, or poet's sweet caress
in words that make the sadness go away.
Than Father yelled to me as I was pressed
by IT again. He begged for me to say
the periodic table and the rest
of all the math I knew. Then Calvin screamed:
"You have to tesser, Sir. By tessering
you can escape. It's just like being beamed
across in order to escape the THING."

10. Absolute Zero

We did, but somehow I got caught between
without a pulse without the warmth of breath.
I saw them all and knew I could be seen,
despite how close I knew I felt to death.
They talked about their projects while I lay
as if a coma covered me, a shroud
through which I still could see but could not say
a word that they could hear. There was a cloud
between us. They were flesh and I was stone.
My Father held my hands. I felt the warm
flesh touching me, as long ago I'd known.
But even he could not destroy the harm
that threatened me, nor could he save his son.
My father used himself to warm my veins.
restore the blood flow. Maybe, we had won.
But Charles was gone inside the IT, remains
absorbed; and I still cannot move a bit.
Three faceless figures loomed above, no eyes
to see but voices soft and sweet and fit
with tentacles that felt, to my surprise,
like softest petals dropping from the sky.
They could not see me or my deadly plight
but somehow knew that I would surely die
if they did not take care of me tonight.

11. Aunt Beast

My Father told the beasts to put me down
at once. Instead, they asked: "Are you afraid? "
He did not answer them. They made a frown
and turned to Cal. Perhaps we can pursuade
some answers out of you. "Where are you from?
Calvin explained the best way that he could.
They told my Father that he could not come
with them, that he should stay with Cal and should
relax and bathe. Recovery is best
achieved when flesh and soul are united,
nourished, and fed, at ease with gentle rest.
With that I lay against their fur my head
in sweet repose as vertigo and sleep,
the comfort of the beasts came over me.
They asked me all about the idea: light.
It seemed so strange to them who couldn't see.
I told them Father did to Charles the same
he did to me. They said it wasn't true:
"Your father tried to win a fruitless game
by biting more than even he could chew."

I looked more closely at the beast and saw
a kindliness of parenthood, at least.
She had to have a name despite the flaw
of sightlessness. I said, "I like Aunt Beast.
Do you? " She thought a moment. Then, she said
"Aunt Beast will do just perfectly, my love."
"I wish I could describe the light, embed
in you the brightness from the sun above."
Aunt Beast just sang and asked if I would like
to go back now where Cal and Father sat.
I whispered: Yes! "But first, before you strike
your battle plans, you eat before we chat."
My Father gave to me the spectacles
that Whatsit had. There was no power left
in them. They are just glass -- plain bifocals
that worked until we fell apart, bereft.

12. The Foolish and the Weak

Then on this cold but not so stormy night
appeared Ms. Whatsit, Who, and twinkling far
beyond, Ms. Which who seemed but fading light
not much less like she was before, a star,
approaching, spirited, the beasts and us
to give advice to get my father back,
eradicate the THING, the alias
that captured Charles, immersed him in the Black.
I begged them for their help, but Whatsit said,
"You know the rules for Camazotz, my dear.
You have the tools and strength inside your head
to win. Not one of us can interfere."
My father told them that he had to go
to Camazotz to see that Charles was freed.
But Ms. Whatsit, Ms. Who, and Which said, "NO! "
"Annd ddo yyou kknoww tthatt yyou wwill nnott ssucceeedd? "
He said, "I have no choice. I have to try."
"Your inexperience will just distract
them, " all concurred. Cal said, "You can't deny
I almost got him once. The tesseract
will work again. We can defeat the IT."
They looked at me. I shuddered as they sighed.
They knew what I knew and could not admit:
"I cant! I can't! You know I can't! " I cried.
The silence thundered all around. I thought
about my father's time he spent inside
the column, dead to us, in blackness, caught.
The rage was gone replaced by love and pride.
I looked upon him grateful for his life
he'd give for us. I had to do the same.
Somewhere in time and space there waits a wife
for her lost love, my father, heart aflame
with passion for his work and for the home
nearly destroyed by coming to this place
where even beasts and witches feared to roam.
My thoughts returned to baby Charles's face.
"Then I will go. There is no choice. I must
attack." My father flew into a rage.
"No way! I won't allow you to -- to -- just --
to die with Charles at such a tender age."
He stammered, fearful. Then, I knew he cared
for all of us, would willingly have died
than have us hurt. He had not yet despaired.
I said, "We all can win if we all tried."
But Whatsit said, "You have to go alone.
You have iambic shape and sonnet form
within the cast of flesh and blood and bone.
But freedom of expression is the norm
just as the sonnet has with fourteen lines
ten syllables and ending with a rhyme
that alternates. The poetess assigns
the pattern but with freedom anytime
to say whatever freely comes to mind.
So you are, too, a spirit within space
without the bonds that tend to keep confined
the thoughts that words in poetry replace."
She spoke these words to Cal but meant for me
to hear them clearly as her sound advice.
I was afraid, and doubted desperately
if I could beat the IT, or pay the price
it took to save my brother, Charles. The war
was on, just me against the BLACK alone.
Ms. Whatsit gave one gift forevermore
which I shall cherish, one that I had known
was stronger than all in the universe:
the gift of love to make my body strong.
The force of Camazotz, this time much worse,
absorbed me into IT. I heard a song
somewhere far off, the voice of Mrs. Which,
which promised me a gift I didn't know
I had. The IT was lacking this. "A switch! "
I thought. "I wish I knew that long ago."
I headed for the Central part of town
where Charles was kept a prisoner inside
himself, his differences all broken down,
his individuality aside,
no longer Charles but some robotic clone.
A suffocating evil drew me in.
I heard my father say, "Dear Megatron,
be strong. I love you and we all can win
against the IT. We're waiting here for you."
I saw my Charles beside the pulsing brain
with rhythmic breathing, nodding. It was true.
I may not win. I had to try again.
I thought, "What do I have that it does not? "
Charles answered, "Nothing! I can read your mind."
I felt the anger surge. "That's what I've got!
It's hate! To strong emotions IT is blind."
"The witches lied to you! " screamed Charles. "They HATE
you for your mind and heart." "You are so wrong! "
I bellowed back. I feared it was too late.
It came to me. I knew it all along.

It wasn't hate at all the BLACKNESS lacked.
IT didn't know the meaning of pure LOVE.
I knew now how at last I could extract
my brother from the iron-fisted glove.
I shouted, "Charles, I love you with my heart,
my soul, my body, and with all my mind.
I love you, Charles. You're tearing me apart.
Please, Charles, come back. I can't leave you behind."
I could not see through eyes too filled with tears
that Charles had burst away, crashed through the hole
and clinging, clasping me, filled both my ears
with words of love and thanks. He gave my soul
new life. I hugged him tight and kissed his cheeks
and rubbed my tears across his baby face.
We left far Camazotz, its distant peaks,
to tesser homeward at a rapid pace
to see the mother that we left behind
to wipe away the terror and the fear
to which she had herself so long resigned
that she might never see her husband dear.
My father's back and we are all as one
with Fortinbras and Cal; it seems so right
that we had fought the fight with IT and won
that once so very dark and stormy night.


Saturday, December 24, 2022
Topic(s) of this poem: narrative,iambic pentameter
Having read the novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle for a literature class at USF, my assignment was to write a reader's response. I was so affected by the novel that I challenged myself to rewrite the novel as an epic poem in iambic pentameter with alternating rhyme scheme of ABAB for every four lines no matter how many there were. There are twelve chapters in the book; hence, there are twelve sections to this opus.
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