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Poem: "Fiorenza and the Witch-Son" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Fiorenza and the Witch-Son"
This poem came from the June 7, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It began with a discussion between eseme and the_vulture about gender roles in Fiorenza's village and the challenges she faces in finding a mate, then drew in Don Candido the priest and possible sources for the friction between him and Fiorenza.  Furthermore, I had in mind a comment made by marina_bonomi back under "Prezzemolina" in which she mentioned the idea of a witch-son, which is another aspect that stretches gender roles a bit.  The result is a poem which takes a leisurely stroll through Fiorenza's life when there is NOT a major crisis going on, for the sake of exploring different people's roles and some ways in which gender roles can be bent without breaking altogether. 

To read other poems about Fiorenza, visit the "Serial Poetry" page on my website. (A sequel will become available after this poem is fully funded and posted, "From the Free City.") There is also a fan-written poem inspired by "Fiorenza and the Witch-Son," showing the perspective of another character; read "Don Candido muses..." by the_vulture.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses. So far sponsors include: the_vulture, janetmiles, idhren24, general fund, eseme, laffingkat, marina_bonomi

FULLY FUNDED
132 lines, Buy It Now = $66 
Amount donated = $54.50
Verses posted = 20 of 24

Amount remaining to fund fully = $11.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $3.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2



Fiorenza and the Witch-Son


Fiorenza has always known
that she is a little different,
but not a lot.

Sometimes, in the garden,
she wears breeches instead of skirts.
She doesn't hesitate to order people around
when necessary, not even the men,
and the villagers are beginning to obey
without arguing so much.

She holds a woman's role,
and her eyes admire the young men's bodies
though she knows far too much of the village lads
ever to desire any of them.

Someday, she thinks,
she'll meet someone else, somewhere else,
and hope he doesn't mind
that she's a little odd around the edges,
like the way wild campanulas bloom
in one corner of the herb garden
where there's a brick missing in the border.

Fiorenza knows her role in the village,
and she values it,
as the villagers are coming to value her.
She tries not to startle them too much
with her little strangenesses,
though sometimes she forgets.

"Ah, Fiorenza," says Don Candido the priest,
shaking his shaggy head,
"a good woman does not wear breeches
into the village!"

"I'm sorry, Don Candido," she says,
and she is, a bit. It's easy to forget
when she has a basket of fresh herbs for the villagers
and her mind is on who needs which,
not what she's wearing.

"You'll never catch yourself a husband
walking around like that," he says.

"I'm not hunting for a husband here,"
says Fiorenza, looking around at the louts
whose fistfights and drunken binges
have landed them on her doorstep time after time.

"Fiorenza, you need a husband,"
says Don Candido. "It's not so good
for women and men to be alone."

"Now that's a fine thing for a priest to say,
given the vow of chastity," Fiorenza replies.
She notices that Don Candido looks away
like a man with something to hide,
yet does not blush like the other priests
who sometimes visit loose women.
He steps out of her way, then,
so Fiorenza does not remark on it.
Someday, she thinks, she'll find a husband
and there will be one less thing
for people to grumble about,
and in the meantime there's no need to argue.

At the market in Fermo,
Fiorenza watches warily for the Spaniard
but he is not there, his space empty.
She settles herself nearby,
spreads her skirts on the dusty grass,
and lays packets of dried herbs on the blanket.

Soon someone new claims the empty space
left by the Spaniard, setting up
a stand of walking sticks,
a basket of neatly rolled bandages,
and a row of potted mallows just beginning to bloom.

At first Fiorenza thinks the newcomer a girl
for the long blue skirts and
the smooth black hair falling to the shoulders,
but no, the chest lies flat under the blouse
and that's a boy's vest instead of a girl's bodice.
Fiorenza can't help but wonder what it all means.

When Captain Marino leans over the blanket,
bartering peppercorns for rosemary,
Fiorenza murmurs, "Who is that over there,
where the Spaniard was before?"

"Oh, that's Giacinto the striòs,"
says Captain Marino.
"His mother is the herbalist for their village,
but she never bore any daughters, only him.
Now she is too old to travel,
so her son is taking her place."

Witches could be trouble, sometimes,
if you aren't careful,
and a witch-son could be twice as much;
but on the other hand it would be nice
to talk with a fellow herbalist.
At the very least, he is unlikely to try pinching her, since
men who wear women's clothes are rarely drawn to women.

Fiorenza watches Giacinto
as the customers come and go.
He never does anything amiss,
and when he scolds one toddler for running wild
his tone reminds Fiorenza so much of her grandmother
that her eyes water with the memory.

So she goes to him at the end of the day,
and she trades the last of her herbs
for the last of his bandages.
Giacinto grins at Fiorenza the way boys grin at girls they like,
and she thinks that perhaps clothes aren't everything.

She doesn't mean to keep standing there
but before she knows it they're laughing and talking
about the challenges of tending a village,
and Giacinto admits that he wears the skirts
because they remind people comfortably of his mother
and Fiorenza tells him the story about
wearing her breeches into the village.

"There is a werewolf up the mountain
from our village," Giacinto says suddenly.
"Vampires outside of ours," Fiorenza says
with a casual nod, "but I've found
that they dislike garlic and tomatoes."
They share a smile for the strange things
that people sometimes ask them to handle.

"I haven't any garlic or tomatoes,"
says Giacinto.
"Well," says Fiorenza, "I could bring some
the next time I come here."

Fiorenza is not one to rush
when there isn't an emergency.
She is content to plant the seeds
and wait to see what will grow.
As she walks home from Fermo Fair, though,
her thoughts wander back to Giacinto
and the sleek dark wings of his hair
and the smooth cleft of his chin
under the shy smile.

Someday, she thinks,
she would like to see more of him,
for a witch-son seems far more interesting
than a village lout any day.

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Current Mood: busy busy

25 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
eseme From: eseme Date: July 9th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do like this one! And I hope the rest gets sponsored. This month is busy with cons and money is tight, but I hope to be able to toss a bit into the hat and reveal more.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 10th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> I do like this one!<<

Yay!

>> And I hope the rest gets sponsored. <<

I'm confident that it will. Fiorenza is currently the third-favorite series, with several repeat supporters.

Meanwhile, someone tossed $5 into the general fund, so there's a microfunding poll open; you could vote for "Fiorenza and the Witch-Son" in that.

>> This month is busy with cons and money is tight, but I hope to be able to toss a bit into the hat and reveal more.<<

That would be most welcome. I know summer is tight for a lot of folks. On the bright side, this month's fishbowl was awesomely rewarding, so I'm very grateful for that.
eseme From: eseme Date: July 12th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent! The secondary protagonist is revealed!

Surely people other than me like this poem? Comments people, comments!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 12th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Excellent! The secondary protagonist is revealed! <<

Yep, and they get some interaction later in the poem.

>>Surely people other than me like this poem? Comments people, comments!<<

*anticipatory wriggle* Feedback is candy!
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 4th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, there are. I wrote a fanfic poem based on it, after all. :)
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: July 12th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm really enjoying the Fiorenza series...and I'm wildly curious about Don Candido now.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 12th, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I'm really enjoying the Fiorenza series <<

I'm happy to hear this.

>> ...and I'm wildly curious about Don Candido now. <<

Hee! He may appear in more poems, depending on how the prompts go.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 4th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not canon, but you might enjoy a piece of fanfic poetry I wrote about him, titled 'Don Candido muses': http://the-vulture.livejournal.com/198588.html
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I had meant to edit this so as to include a link to that poem. It's there now.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 5th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Coolies! :)
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: August 5th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Very happy on the progress with this one!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

Me too, and now we're down to the last few verses.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: August 5th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm liking the progression here. I love that Giacinto and Fiorenza have such pragmatic reasons for their "non-standard" clothing choices.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>>Oh, I'm liking the progression here.<<

It's moving along nicely, and we're getting close to the conclusion.

>> I love that Giacinto and Fiorenza have such pragmatic reasons for their "non-standard" clothing choices.<<

*grin* Yep. Not everyone who looks genderqueer actually is, or at least, is as much as they may seem. And not everything that people think about "clothes make the man" is necessarily true, or complete ... or not. There's a long wide way between observed facts and derived interpretations.
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: August 23rd, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Delightful!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 23rd, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad you like it.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: August 23rd, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yay! Thanks to marina_bonomi for the last few verses!
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: August 23rd, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
My pleasure! :)
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 23rd, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! I'm glad to see it got fully funded! :)
siege From: siege Date: August 23rd, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I approve of Giacinto myself.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 24th, 2011 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm happy to hear that. I think he has potential.
eseme From: eseme Date: August 23rd, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! It is fully funded!

I have enjoyed this poem since you sent it to me as a prompter, and I'm happy everyone can read it.
kyleri From: kyleri Date: August 24th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, love!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 25th, 2011 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm happy to hear that.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: August 29th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
<3
25 comments or Leave a comment