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Poem: "Fiorenza and the Forest Wild" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Fiorenza and the Forest Wild"

This poem came out of the February 7, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from zianuray and wyld_dandelyon.  It has been sponsored by marina_bonomi.  Among the articles I used for the animals and plants were "Fauna of Italy," "Wild Animals in Italy: The Central Regions," and "Andar per Campi."   This poem belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.


Fiorenza and the Forest Wild


At least once a season,
Fiorenza hiked into the hills above the village,
where she could look down and see the houses and fields
of Nocciolaia spread out like patchwork skirts.

The sacred groves still stood atop the hills,
primarily hazel trees and bushes
mixed with beech and oak,
willows stitching down the ravines
where the silver creeks spilled.
It was forbidden to clear away the sacred groves
lest blight fall on the fields below.

There in the forest she saw signs of wild boar
digging for truffles amongst the tree roots,
and the tracks of the shy silent lynx.
Once she had seen a brown bear
scratching himself against a stump,
and sometimes at twilight a wolf would sing.
Blackbirds and finches trilled in the canopy.

Yellow-bellied toads lived in the springs,
where scarlet dragonflies darted through the air.
Sloe thickets attracted hares
and drifting clouds of sail swallowtails,
pale yellow butterflies striped with black.
Cleopatra butterflies favored the woodlands and scrub,
especially where the buckthorn grew,
their wings making flashes of gold and orange in the gloom.

In spring, Fiorenza gathered stinging nettles
and wild mushrooms in the damp places,
borragine  with its little blue cucumber-flavored flowers
where the sun shone on the slopes.

In summer she picked crispigno
and other pot greens, along with
wild fennel for its licorice-tasting bulbs
and, later, its tiny fragrant seeds.

In autumn the nuts fell, heaping piles
of hazel and beech that she collected
to be cracked and cooked into treats.

In winter, she cut willows for making baskets
and studied the tracks of animals
left behind in mud or snow.

Though she lacked Mad Ercole's ability
to understand what the wild things said,
still Fiorenza had grown up observing them
and could intuit their needs and nature.

She could guess the weather from the sky and wind,
the thickness of nutshells and the down in a bird's nest.
She knew that too many hares would denude the fields,
followed by a flourish of lynxes and foxes
who would go after hens and sheep once the hares had gone.
Sometimes if the animals behaved oddly,
an illness would come into the village,
and in such times she warned her people
to stay away from sickly wildlife.

Some things Fiorenza knew because she had been told,
while others she discovered on her own.
She did not always know how she knew those things,
only that she was wise enough to listen
when the forest wild whispered to her
in something older and subtler than words.

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2 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
msminlr From: msminlr Date: February 9th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fiorenza is by-far my favorite character in your poetry-series'.

Do you have any plans to do a chapbook or may I just print them out and put them in an Acco-binder [so I can add to them as you write more]? I'll be happy to send money.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2012 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>Fiorenza is by-far my favorite character in your poetry-series'.<<

I'm happy to hear that.

>>Do you have any plans to do a chapbook or may I just print them out and put them in an Acco-binder [so I can add to them as you write more]?<<

I do have plans for a Fiorenza chapbook eventually, although other series are ahead of it in development. Meanwhile, if you wish to print out the poems for your own enjoyment, that's perfectly okay.

>> I'll be happy to send money.<<

Some thoughts on that ...

* The current Fiorenza poem in microfunding is "The Godfather" with $23 left to be fully funded. You can see the other poems available for sponsorship on the Serial Poetry page.

* This year's donor-perk at the $100 level is a series collection, with all the poems printed and bound in series-chronological order. Fiorenza the Wisewoman is an option for that. $10 a month would do it, if that appeals. Doesn't matter where you direct the donations for that; it all adds up.

* You can also direct money toward series sponsorship rather than an individual poem. That lets me know which series are more popular, inclining me to devote more energy to them if I get ideas for background material or extra poems outside the fishbowl proper.
2 comments or Leave a comment