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Poem: "Cultivating Family" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Cultivating Family"
This poem came out of the September 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from marina_bonomi, kelkyag, and siliconshaman.  It also fills the "opportunity" square in the Birthday Bingo Fest public card.  This poem belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman.


Cultivating Family


As her father's birthday approached,
Fiorenza realized that if there was to be
any sort of celebration, she would
have to organize it herself -- Giordano
had been out of the village too long
and not back long enough for
anyone else to make the effort.

She wanted a father, after all;
she just didn't always know
what to do with one.

Fiorenza conspired with several people
to produce a memorable birthday gift.

Applewood from a storm-felled tree
in Zola's orchard was turned into
a rocking chair carved with dolphins.
Margherita used her jeweled speech
to produce bits of coral and pearl for inlays.
Fiorenza dyed the seat cushion in sea colors.

Abelie whispered in the kitchen,
bringing herbs out of season
to bake the birthday feast --
pesche dolci, mint cookies,
and candied violets -- plus
Bettina brought rolls stuffed with
pancetta and pecorino cheese.

Zola's family invited everyone
over to their place for the festivities,
because they had a huge house
and plenty of room for children
to run around the orchard.

The men brought out the rocker,
which Giordano adored,
and Fiorenza seated him in it
like a king overseeing his court.

Perhaps it was Don Candido
who ran the farthest with that idea,
slipping through the crowd
to send people to Giordano,
each of them with a different story
of something that happened
in the village during his absence.

Abelie and Margherita watched this,
then scampered off to find the children
who were spread around the orchard,
Abelie herding the boys and
Margherita the girls, bringing
songs and games and youth.

Giordano regaled them in turn
with tales of his travels at sea,
adventures and discoveries
and terrifying storms.

It felt good for Fiorenza to hear
about his life so far away,
and she hoped that the stories
of village life would help
fit him back into it.

"And what of you, my daughter?"
Giordano asked when the crowd
thinned and left them together.
"What story would you tell me?"

Fiorenza told him how it was that
she became a wisewoman so young,
from the death of her mother soon
after Fiorenza's birth, and her training
under her grandmother until she too passed,
all without a man of the house to help raise her,
so that she found her own way instead.

"It was like making a bit of lace around a ring,
always leaving a space in the center
for something that was missing," she said,
"only now that you've come home, I find
that the space I left is entirely too small."

"I suppose I have done the same,"
her father said, rocking in his new chair.
"I carried a place in my heart for a little girl,
but I have come home to a woman.
I wish that your mother had lived, but more,
I wish that I could have been here for you."

Abelie came up to them then.
"Family is like a garden.
You have to work constantly
if you want it to grow better,"
she said, catching a bouquet
of sage, scarlet zinnias,
and apple blossoms which
she handed to Fiorenza.

"Happy birthday, Father,"
said Fiorenza. "I'm willing
to pull my share of the weeds
if you are, too."

Giordano hugged her fiercely,
crushing the fragrant bouquet
between their chests.
"Yes," he said, "of course."

* * *

Notes:

An Italian birthday party is often a big family occasion, with a feast and a lot of people running around.

Pesche Dolci are peach cookies.

The language of flowers has many versions.  Sage stands for family, scarlet zinnia for constancy, and apple blossom for better things to come.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: technoshaman Date: September 3rd, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awwwww! And good on Don Candido, being *sneaky* for once... :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 4th, 2014 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you liked this. Yes, he can be subtle at need.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: September 4th, 2014 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)
A warm friendly poem; I like it.

Possible typo?

Giordano
had been out of the village too long
and not back long enough
anyone else to make the effort.


Should that perhaps be, "not back long enough / for anyone else to make the effort"?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 4th, 2014 08:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> A warm friendly poem; I like it. <<

Yay!

>> Possible typo? <<

Fixed, thanks.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: September 4th, 2014 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abelie is managing words with her flowers, now?

Also I make grabby hands for that rocking chair! And the peach cookies ... oh, not actually peach flavored, but pretty!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 14th, 2014 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Abelie is managing words with her flowers, now? <<

I didn't notice that until you pointed it out, but apparently so. It must be something she's learned with practice.

>> Also I make grabby hands for that rocking chair! And the peach cookies ... oh, not actually peach flavored, but pretty! <<

If I were making those, I'd probably use peach schnapps, which is one of the few alcoholic things I actually like; and maybe a bit of pomegranate juice for coloring. Because yeah, I'd want them to taste like peaches.
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