Gnomes

Inspired by a Margaret Atwood Masterclass assignment:

Choose a scene and write about it from three different perspectives.

 

Amelia Murphy

I didn’t notice at first – not consciously. I knew something was off, though.

I had gone to the mailbox, intending to hurry back inside, given my attire of sweatpants and a bathrobe. But on the way back, I stopped and stood, staring intently at my front lawn. What was different?

My first thought was that someone had stolen one of my lawn gnomes. But after a thorough walk-through of the yard, I could see that all 60 of them were there, each in their one-foot tall, multi-colored, and mostly bearded glory.

But they were all in different places. And places that didn’t make sense!

For example, Ukelele George, instead of sitting in the evergreen huckleberry, lay on his back in the rose garden, serenading the red and pink blossoms. Ferdinand, with the watering can, no longer slaked the thirst of the miniature daisies to the left of the doorway path, but instead stood on a log and poured water into the mouth of Daydreamer Doug, whose head tilted up to the heavens, mouth slightlty open in wonder. And on and on – incongruence everywhere.

I was angry, at first, knowing that someone had come into my yard without permission. I was sad, too, remembering how I had deliberately placed each gnome in my yard, adding a new one every year on my birthday as a present to myself. Once I got a gnome settled, there it stayed. I could remember parts of my life by gnome. Jiminy Joe had been the first, acquired the year I bought the house with my husband. My second gnome, Sally Sue, joined Jiminy the year I got divorced. After that, most of the gnomes have been reminders of what president was in office, promotions at work, etc. And now that I’m retired and in my 80’s, the gnomes have helped trigger some of my fading memories.

Whoever had come into my yard had not only violated my space, but also my memories. My careful placement of historical markers had been undone!

But I couldn’t be angry for too long. The strange new habitations of the gnomes seemed to give them life – as if they had personal stories. I found myself wandering around the yard and chuckling, sometimes even laughing out loud.

It felt good. Like joy.

I can’t remember the last time I felt that.

 

Kiara

Mrs. Murphy has so many dolls in her yard, but she never plays with them. On my birthday, I asked Mom if I could play with the dolls in Mrs. Murphy’s yard. Sometimes on my birthday, she lets me do things I usually can’t do – like stay up late or eat ice cream two times in one day.

But Mom said they are not dolls. I asked her if they were real people, and Mom said they are nomes. Maybe that’s a kind of people like babies are a kind of people. One time I tried to dress my baby cousin in my Teddy Bear’s clothes, and Mom said, “Ki Ki! You can’t play with her like that! She’s not a doll!”

Yesterday, while Mom was on the front porch talking on her phone, I snuck into Mrs. Murphy’s yard to look at the little people. I was happy that most of them had hats. Mom makes me wear hats, too, to protect me from sunburn. A couple of the nomes didn’t have hats, so I put those ones in the shade.

Then I wondered if the other nomes wanted to move, too. I wasn’t playing with them. I was helping them go places.

I wanted them to have interesting things to look at. One nome looked like he was breaking, like my cousin who’s a b-boy, so I put a circle of people around to watch him. I found other nomes that looked like they wanted to talk to each other, so I put them somewhere comfy to chat. Then I moved all the nomes I found, giving them nice new places to be.

A couple of nomes looked like they wanted to go inside, so I set them on the front step. They were too short to reach the doorbell, though. I was going to get a chair for them to stand on, but Mom called me, and I had to leave.

 

Stargazer Steve

Sun will rise, and sun will set.
Skies criss-cross with trails from jets.

In fall I’m under orange-red leaves,
Green is my spring canopy.

My view can be a bright blue place,
Or clouds can smack rain in my face.

For fifty years (to be exact)
I’ve mourned the movement that I lack.

The sky is nice, but I’ve longed instead
To see the world behind my head.

I’m always looking up, not down,
And though I ever smile (not frown)

I’m sad to think the world behind
My head is one I’ll never find.

 

Recently, one sunny day,
I felt my body float away,

To land on higher bark-rimmed ground
(While hearing high-pitched giggly sounds.)

On that day of blessed gift,
I felt my stiffened body lift,

Then land upon ceramic side
To view a panorama wide.

Plants and people, cats and dogs,
Fellow gnomes on lawn and logs,

And the sweet brown face of a little girl
With hazel eyes and so-tight curls.

Oh lovely girl who set me free,
You’ve given me so much more to see!