This poem was written for a “writing challenge” at the Penticton Writers’ Group. Each participant chose a random word, wrote it at the top of two slips of paper, and on one of the slips wrote 10 words they related to the topic word. The other slip was handed to another participant who also wrote 10 related words. The words then had to be used to write a poem or short story. My topic word was “quirky.” This is my effort – you’ll find the original list of words at the bottom!

Quirky, she was –
Uniquely, beautifully quirky –
This one who tumbled, unexpectedly,
Into our contentedly well-ordered lives.
She spiraled in
Like a brilliant, multi-colored shower
Of kaleidoscopic shards,
Changing with every twirling movement.
And yet, somehow,
The patterns never quite right.
Always something just a bit odd.
Small differences
That isolated her.

Funky details.
Her fanciful little hats
(She favored fedoras, I recall. Fedoras.
Topped with a mad collection of buttons,
Attached, with wildly mismatched threads,
In childlike mayhem).
And her startling striped stockings,
Toes worn bare
Tripping the light fantastic.

Strangely outcast she was.

Some folk came right out,
Firmly declared her weird.
Others simply whispered,
While more proper folk
Archly proposed more, well,
Thoughtful adjectives:
Alternative, they suggested;
Artsy, perhaps.

But then,
One by one,
We all turned away,
Back into our comfortable,
Carefully ordered lives.

No one noticed
That with each turned back
Her colorful hues faded a little.
Her dancing toes twirled
Just a bit more slowly.
Her shimmering effervescence
Dimmed slightly.
Her amazing kaleidoscopic patterns
Slowly collapsing
Into a shattered heap.

And then one day,
She was gone.
Creeping away,

Leaving our contented, comfortable,
Orderly lives
Cold and gray and empty.

(The original word list for the writing challenge: QUIRKY, different, odd, isolated, fedoras, outcast, funky, buttons, striped stockings, hats, crazy, unique, original, creative, thoughtful, weirdly, artsy, fanciful, alternative).

By Norma J. Hill

Date: October 14, 2008


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