Beatrix & B.B.

http://www.independent.co.uk

Publication Date: September, 2019

Location: poetsonline.org, then go to Archive, then ‘fictional characters’.

Genesis: I really enjoyed playing with this one. They asked for “…a poem that describes a fictional character beyond the time of the story in any way – in their home, office, workplace, or doing something out in their world.” The Kill Bill films (dir. Quentin Tarantino) are right up there in my Top 10, so it was pretty easy to choose the powerful female lead, Beatrix Kiddo, and her little daughter, B.B. I wanted the poem to work for people who have never seen the films, and I also wanted to seed it with as many hints and references to the films themselves, so those who have seen the films will get multiple hits of recognition. I also chose to have her become a high-end blacksmith. The art of beating hot metal runs in my blood – my paternal grandfather was a blacksmith all his life – and I have a plan to set up a small workshop for myself in 2020. Unusually, I showed this one to a friend before I sent it in, and she said I’d laid the film references on a bit too thick. I thanked her for her feedback and changed not a word! In fact, I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, at least a handful of readers who have not seen Kill Bill Parts 1 and 2 will be moved to do so as a result of reading this. If this happens to you, please let me know.

 
 As Black Mamba, and a member of the DIVAS
 You were already one of the deadliest women in the world.
 After your “roaring rampage of revenge”
 For the massacre at Two Pines,
 With that Hanzo masterpiece in your hand
 And the five-point palm exploding heart technique
 At your very fingertips
 You were easily THE deadliest woman in the world.
  
 And a mom.
  
 Did you have a plan 
 As you drove the convertible north out of Mexico
 With little B.B. safely strapped in beside you?
 There was no going back.
 Arlene was as dead as the rest of the DIVAS.
 The record store was no more.
 And while, in these enlightened times,
 Women don’t always abandon their careers
 When the first child arrives,
 For a paid assassin, 
 The work-life balance is a little more precarious
 And worthy of deeper consideration.
  
 Look at you both now!
 B.B. is ten already
 And still loves to fall asleep next to you 
 Watching ‘Shogun Assassin’.
 You’ve not married –
 I can see how the rehearsal in El Paso
 May have put a dampener on any such thoughts.
  
 And your business! Out in the deep woods
 Near a little town you just think of as F.
 A blacksmith at her forge!
 Many would have had ideas;
 Few would have seen Vulcan in your stars!
  
 Three, maybe four days a week, you work in ‘the shop’,
 Safety boots – barefoot blacksmiths are rarer even than you, Beatrix!
 Thick canvas pants, leather apron, leather gauntlets,
 Safety glasses, blonde hair tied back,
 Face and shoulders glistening with sweat 
 And smeared with the soot of ancient industry,
 Plunging cold, raw steel into the violently hot gas forge,
 Beating it with hammer-on-anvil, under power hammers,
 And dipping hot metal into a tin bucket of cold water
 To temper, harden and cool.
  
 That’s a massive over-simplification.
 From your humble workshop,
 Your Damascus steel is in high demand
 All over the world.
 Do I sense the occult side to Hattori’s art
 Mixed with a touch of Eagle Claw magic?
 Or did you single-handedly re-imagine
 A long-lost desert secret that’s not seen the light of day
 Since the waters of the Nile
 Flowed across the Plain of Giza,
 Washing the paws of the Sphinx in its holy waters?
  
 Following your mentors’ lead,
 You refuse to make instruments of death.
 Instead
 You imagine artefacts into manifestation –
 Clean edges, sensuous curves, 
 Unexpected portals and illusory sightlines.
 Hints, sometimes, of a toned forearm,
 A cobra’s head,
 A sushi roll, a fish head, 
 A finely turned ankle, but mostly
 Shaped steel, forged in flames and which,
 Like the flames themselves,
 Shape-shift the more one gazes upon them.
  
 You don’t work for the money, Beatrix.
 Hell, you left Elle’s million behind in Budd’s trailer
 Together with his priceless Hattori Hanzo!
 No, you do it for the love of doing it,
 And B.B. is learning to do the same,
 Whether she’s swimming in the lake,
 Wrestling with her science project,
 Or practicing her piano. 
 Or her tae kwon do. 

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