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Poem: "The Talk of Faggiola" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Talk of Faggiola"

This poem came out of the March 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from e_scapism101 and Dreamwidth user jjhunter.  It was sponsored by Anthony and Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman, and you can find the other poems through the Serial Poetry page.




The Talk of Faggiola


Giacinto is used to
walking through the village of Faggiola (1)
with gossip swirling around his ankles like streamwater.

Vitalia the baker hands over her extra buns
for Giacinto to take to his mother Agostina,
and asks if he will let his hair grow as long as a girl's.
Giacinto flicks his shoulder-length locks out of his face
and murmurs, "Not much longer than this, I think."

Silvano the woodcutter brings a load of logs
from the beech forest above the village,
then tips his hat as if Giacinto were a girl.
"There's a handsome lad come with the tinkers,"
Silvano says as he stacks the firewood.
"So I hear," Giacinto says,
though he does not care for handsome lads.

Delanna the shepherdess comes to Giacinto
with her herd of white Fabrianese sheep,
seeking a dip to relieve the fleas.
"I miss when your mother would visit me
in the hills," she says with a sigh.
"As does my mother," Giacinto replies.

The constant tut-tutting of villagers
is as familiar to him as the clucking of hens.
So long as they come to him at need,
he will abide it.  It is no one's fault
that a wisewoman is expected to be a woman
or that Agostina gave birth to a son instead of a daughter.

"Do not fret over it," the wisewoman says,
patting him with a wrinkled hand.
"You will grow into your place here,
and they will grow used to you.
When I was a girl, it was my mother they wished for!"
"I'm sure you're right, mother," Giacinto replies.

Then one day, Fiorenza comes to Faggiola,
towing an addled veteran along
to see if anything might be done
to restore the balance of his mind.

Agostina spends hours weaving a witch's subtle spells,
piecing together a path through the overgrown thicket
of his thoughts, a twist here, a turn there.
It will never be straight again, but it will have to do.
Giacinto and Fiorenza stroll through the gardens,
speaking of herbs and how best to soothe Ercole
on the bad days or the sleepless nights.

The villagers see them together,
Giacinto the striòs  and Fiorenza the wisewoman, (2)
not holding hands but close enough to do so.
Giacinto just smiles, knowing that
the gossips will have something new to talk about now.

* * *

1) Faggiola means "beech grove" and is the name of Giacinto's village.  Many Italian villages are named in this fashion, after notable local features.  Special thanks to Marina Bonomi for providing the name.

2) Striòs  means "witch-son" or "male-witch."  Although folkloric witches are often thought of as female, there are exceptions.

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11 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: March 10th, 2012 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
So, will that stir the gossips to prod any of the village's unmarried young women into making their move - in case Fiorenza lures him away to her village? :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 10th, 2012 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

Well, they could try. I doubt it would do much good. The villagers in Faggiola tend to think of Giacinto as being somewhere between male and female. That's not what most girls want in a husband.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: March 10th, 2012 07:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

But they won't want him moving away either and he'll need a wife eventually if they're going to have witch/wisewoman in the next generation.

Edited at 2012-03-10 07:51 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 10th, 2012 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

They are in an awkward situation there.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: March 10th, 2012 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

I'm sure there will be a solution, eventually. ('most girls' might be the thing and the solution may not present itself for years...)
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: March 11th, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
My first guess was that having a male wise-one might let them help the wounded veteran more than having just women about, because the soldier might be better able to open up to the man because he is male.

Of course, even if true, this poem is about the gossips, not about healing. Perhaps there will be another Giacinto poem in our future.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 12th, 2012 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>My first guess was that having a male wise-one might let them help the wounded veteran more than having just women about, because the soldier might be better able to open up to the man because he is male.<<

It would if Ercole were talking about the battle. He rarely does. The damage is mostly from getting his skull cracked by a cannonball. I think if he wanted to talk about it, he'd either pick a fellow veteran or a priest.
eseme From: eseme Date: March 14th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad to see more of Giacinto, and I hope he and Florenza find a way to spend more time together.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 14th, 2012 02:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

They seem determined to find ways to connect despite the challenges.
helgatwb From: helgatwb Date: April 10th, 2014 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
What's the difference between a witch (like Agostina) and a wisewoman (like Fiorenza)?

I love these stories.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 10th, 2014 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> What's the difference between a witch (like Agostina) and a wisewoman (like Fiorenza)? <<

It's not a hard-and-fast rule; they're synonyms. Some of what went into their terms:

* A witch can be solitary.
* Giacinto was introduced as a striòs which means witch-son, so his mother is logically a witch.

* A wisewoman serves a village.
* A wisewoman may have a wider range of skills.

>> I love these stories. <<

Thank you!
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