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

This poem came out of the January 22, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion.  It also fills the "water" square on my Dark Fantasy Bingo Card.  It has been sponsored by rix_scaedu. This poem belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman.  You can read more about the aguane  online.




Aguana


There were goat prints in the garden
but nobody's goats had gotten loose.

There were bites taken out of Fiorenza's herbs --
the basil and sorrel and marjoram --
not to mention a whole row of peas eaten.

Fiorenza tried raising the fence,
but that did not help.
She tried sitting up at night,
but nothing came when she did,
and she couldn't sit up every  night
because she needed her sleep.

So when the bean pods began to swell,
Fiorenza set a snare beneath the plants.
That very night came a twang!  from the snare
and a frantic bleating from whatever it caught.

Fiorenza flung on her robe and ran outside
to find, dangling from the tree above her bean patch,
a fairy with a woman's torso and the four legs of a goat
all dripping with muddy river water.

"I know you," said Fiorenza.
"you are one of the aguane  who lives
in the river at the bottom of the hill.
Why have you stolen from my garden?"

"My sisters drove me away from the river,"
said the aguana,  "because I do not like
to drown men who wade across it.
They caught me giving rides to little boys
and now I have nowhere to go.
No one will sell me food looking like this,
and I am tired of eating leaves in the woods."

Fiorenza thought that one less chance
of people drowning in the river was a good thing,
but losing so much of her produce was not.
Then again, perhaps she could bargain
for something that would reduce her own work.

"You may eat all the apples that fall to the ground
in the orchard, and all the garden trimmings
that land on the compost pile," Fiorenza said.
"In addition, I will give you a basket of vegetables
each week if you bless the village water supply
so that it runs clear and carries no sickness."

The aguan   nodded, so Fiorenza cut her down.
From that time onward, the village wells
all gave clean cold water, even in summer,
and even the one a dog had somehow died in
that never was quite right again until that year.

When Fiorenza's cousins Durante and Frederico
mentioned riding a funny white goat in the forest,
Fiorenza just smiled and suggested
that she might carry them over the creek
in exchange for a pocketful of carrots.

* * * 

Vocabulary

aguana  (plural aguane)  -- a type of Italian water-fairy with the torso of a woman and feet or legs of a goat or horse.  The exact form varies regionally.  In part of Northern Italy they are called anguane  and are related to banshees.

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15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: January 26th, 2013 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope the aguane is doing better than her sisters! :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 26th, 2013 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

I would think so. Cooperation tends to produce better results.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: January 26th, 2013 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful as usual. The aguane (anguane in my part of Northern Italy) are fascinating creatures (in our rapresentation they have goat feet but normal arms but they change a lot depending on the place). I guess around here (between Veneto and Lombardy) they got mixed up with the banshee: we have the saying 'sigar come na 'nguana' (scream like an anguana)that I've never heard anywhere else.

Language note: aguane is the plural form, singular is aguana.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 26th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Beautiful as usual. <<

Thank you! I'm glad you liked this.

>>The aguane (anguane in my part of Northern Italy) are fascinating creatures (in our rapresentation they have goat feet but normal arms but they change a lot depending on the place). I guess around here (between Veneto and Lombardy) they got mixed up with the banshee: we have the saying 'sigar come na 'nguana' (scream like an anguana)that I've never heard anywhere else.<<

Fascinating. Maybe it has to do with the way goats can shriek when distressed?

>>Language note: aguane is the plural form, singular is aguana.<<

Much appreciated. I should have caught that from all my work with fate/fata. I have edited the poem accordingly. Please let me know if you spot errors in any of the other poems; there were a fair number this time with Italian fragments.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: January 26th, 2013 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this series! (In my head, Fiorenza has descendants at Hart's Farm and Monster House.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 26th, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I have gradually come to suspect that Fiorenza and Hart's Farm are sequentially connected within the same world, although it's less visible because the more fantastical aspects of Hart's Farm haven't been published yet.

Monster House, I'm less sure of. Much of the rest of the world there seems more solidly formed, like ours, and less malleable the way fairy tale reality is in Fiorenza the Wisewoman.

*ponder* The best explanation I could come up with for something like that would be if the mortal world and magical world(s) were in relative motion rather like the planets, and that motion influenced the degree to which inhabitants could interact across the worlds and what kind of rules governed reality. Which could be an interesting way of explaining why science has thought such radically different things over the centuries: some of those may have been true at the time they were observed, but ceased to be true later. Or some things may have been locally true but not universally true.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: January 26th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

There's also the (perceived, since you've never stated where Monster House is) difference between the Old World and the New World, and the differences in how an agrarian culture is closer to the land than modern culture. The MH family deals a lot more with household spirits than with wider mythology, although the Slumber Party poem demonstrates that people of different heritages brought their traditional household spirits to the US with them. I love the idea of things having been true at the time of observation as relates to mythology.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 27th, 2013 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>>There's also the (perceived, since you've never stated where Monster House is) difference between the Old World and the New World,<<

Monster House is in suburban America. Judging from the climate I'd say continental United States.

>> and the differences in how an agrarian culture is closer to the land than modern culture. The MH family deals a lot more with household spirits than with wider mythology, although the Slumber Party poem demonstrates that people of different heritages brought their traditional household spirits to the US with them.<<

Also true.

>> I love the idea of things having been true at the time of observation as relates to mythology. <<

I'm holding onto that as a possibility. I haven't made a firm decision about whether or not these series are connected. They are more similar to each other than to some other places I write. Sometimes I can tell very clearly that this and that piece happen in the same setting. Other times it's much more vague.

my_partner_doug is fairly strong against the idea of connecting these series, on the grounds that it might be a turn-off for some readers. Me, I tend to write what comes, and then see how the pieces fit together.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: January 27th, 2013 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

He's most likely correct. I tend to be a fan of crossovers and things being connected, but not everyone feels the same way.
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: January 27th, 2013 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

More precisely, my opposition is aimed against the idea of bringing any fantasy elements into Hart's Farm. That setting is a the only example among your series work (with the possible exception of the apparently abandoned Minoan set) in which there are no speculative elements whatsoever (other than sociological). It's attracted a readership base that includes folks who haven't been drawn into your other work, which is extensively built on fantasy or science fiction premises. Leave the Farm grounded within the realm of the historically possible, even if not entirely plausible, please.
eseme From: eseme Date: February 10th, 2013 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I would agree. I like the change of pace, even though I do like the fantasy and sci fi elements in your work. I find Hart's Farm to be a great sociological series, and does not need any other elements.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2013 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I'm starting to wonder if I could fork the series so as not to bug people who want to avoid the fantasy elements. Since I already know about them, I don't want to lose them.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: January 26th, 2013 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I *like*! Not surprising… :-) This is the first I've heard of a(n)guane. & molte grazie, maria_bonome, for the dialect notes!
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: January 26th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
My pleasure!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 27th, 2013 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>I *like*! Not surprising… :-) <<

I'm happy to hear that.

>> This is the first I've heard of a(n)guane. & molte grazie, maria_bonome, for the dialect notes! <<

They're new to me too. I went looking for Italian fairy tale creatures.

marina_bonomi has graciously done the cultural fact-checking for me on several poems from this batch, which has helped a lot.
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