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

This poem came out of the October 5, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a very creepy video prompt from moosl.   This poem was sponsored by xjenavivex as part of the 2010 Holiday Poetry Sale.  Season's greetings, and thanks!

I'm really glad to be able to share this poem.  The original prompt reminded me of a weird old vampire story I'd encountered long ago, which got me thinking about the whistled language, which led me through some fascinating research about the Canary Islands.  So then of course I found myself writing in a mix of Spanish and English, a style of poetry that I fell in love with back in college while reading Emplumada by Lorna Dee Cervantes.  The end result is an original vampire legend pieced together from a lot of widely scattered, colorful scraps.

La Silbadora

The women of the village said
that she was unnatural, too willful and disobedient,
quick to run away into the laurisilva,
vanishing like a canary in the forested slopes.

The men of the village said
that she was a wanton thing,
always scampering along the steep sides of the barrancos
with her skirts tucked into her belt and her knees showing.

They said that she talked too much,
and they were tired of hearing what she had to say,
so they stitched her lips closed
and banished her from the village.

But she knew Silbo Gomero, the whistled language,
and she learned to speak it through her sealed mouth,
eerie sounds echoing along the gullies
to charm the villagers from their beds.

Then she would hang them from the trees
and slit their throats so they could no longer condemn her.
Lying beneath them, she would let the red rain of their blood
wet her tortured lips and quench her thirst.

* * *
1) La Silbadora  means "the whistling woman" or "the female speaker of Silbo Gomero."
2) Silbo Gomero is a whistled language used by the inhabitants of La Gomera  in the Canary Islands.
3) Laurisilva  means "laurel forest," a type of humid subtropical forest.
4) Barrancos  means "deep ravines," a characteristic feature of terrain on La Gomera.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 18th, 2010 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Neat! Creepy and weird, my favorites.

For some reason, the canary in the first stanza reminds me of this trollish/fae creature in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. It takes the appearance of a harmless old lady, eats cats, and is deathly afraid of canaries.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: December 19th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Woosh, well done! I love it!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.
eseme From: eseme Date: December 20th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)
That is definitely sufficiently creepy!

It also has the feel of a real legend. Well done.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 20th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>It also has the feel of a real legend. Well done.<<

*happy dance*
5 comments or Leave a comment