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I recently wrote about Creating with a Constraint, and I thought I’d take my own advice this last weekend. It was Sunday, and I was in Flint celebrating my nieces’ birthdays. Adriana was turning 5 in a few days, and Amelia is turning 8 in March. I asked both girls if they’d like a story for their birthday, and they did.

So, I gave myself some constraints. First, I asked them what the story should be about. You’ll have to wait for Amelia’s answer, but Adriana said that I should pick the story. I didn’t want to let myself off the hook so easily, so I asked her if it should be about fish, or dolphins, or princesses. She picked fish, because they recently got a pet fish. I asked her what the fish should do, and she said it should get out of its bowl. Ok, I can work with that.

Constraint 2: Time. I didn’t have much of it. Her birthday was Wednesday, and Sunday was just about over. Monday was full of errands and Tuesday was work and the Michigan State basketball game, so I’d have to find time for it.

And to up the level of difficulty even further, I added a third constraint and tried my hand at some poetry. I was thinking more Dr. Seuss than William Shakespeare, especially after I tried to understand iambic pentameter. After a bit of research, I settled on anapestic tetrameter. Sounds fancy, but you’ll know it if you have read Twas the Night Before Christmas.

So, without further adieu, here is After Dark.

In a house there once lived two young girls with a fish.
It was fed and was loved; for a pet was their wish.
So they named the fish Molly and they sat and then stared.
But dear Molly just swam and did nothing with flare.

Soon the girls went to bed, where they read and they prayed,
And their thoughts of dear Molly they stopped for the day.
But the fish did not stay all alone in her bowl.
After dark is when fish leave their bowl and patrol.

When the lights they went dark, it was time at long last
so she swam and she swam; she was going real fast.
Then she jumped up and out of the bowl that was home,
On the table she landed; ready to watch and to roam.

On her fins she did walk when no girls sat ’round starin’,
so now she would wander the house without carin’.
She slid down the leg of the table she lived on,
Then ran fast for the stairs; jumping over a crayon.

With hard work and with effort, she climbed all the stairs.
At the top she did stop for she had to beware
of the mom that would scream if she saw Molly there
in the dark, empty hallway where fish can’t breath air.

Molly walked and was soon at the door of the sister
Who fed her and loved her and now Molly missed her.
Without hesitation she walked up to the bed,
and proceeded to climb up and sleep by her head.

She stayed there all night next to sweet Adriana,
where she heard her dream of a cat she called Burma.
It scared Molly at first, but it was just a dream,
Because fish and cats don’t go together it seems.

The moon rose and it set and the light showed that dawn
had broken and twas time for Molly to be gone.
From the room Molly slipped and slid down the handrail,
and was back in her bowl by the skin of her tail.

For the girls were now up and  “Good morning!” they said.
They gave Molly food and then they watched as she fed.
Molly stared back and gave them a wave and a wink;
“Ha, Surprise! I do more than just play in the sink.”