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

This poem came out of the January 17, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from rowyn and Dreamwidth user syntaxofthings.  It was selected as the second freebie in an audience poll.  This poem draws some inspiration from the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood," and features a return of Giacinto and his werewolf problem.


Fiorenza's New Hat


When Fiorenza went to see Giacinto
at his booth in the Fermo Fair,
she found him looking worn and pale
with dark circles underneath his eyes.

"You look terrible, Giacinto!"
Fiorenza exclaimed.
"Whatever is wrong with you?"

The striòs  gave her a wry smile.
"You are as lovely and as honest as ever, Fiorenza,"
said Giacinto.  "What is wrong is that
I have stayed up five nights this month,
trying to catch a werewolf,
with nothing to show for it
except for these ghastly bags beneath my eyes."

"Have you tried stalking him?
Have you tried keeping watch on his lair?"
Fiorenza asked, trying to think of the possibilities.

"Yes, but he is wary as a deer,"
Giacinto said.  "Whenever he smells me --
which is always -- he runs away.
I cannot seem to get close to him."
The witch-son flung his hands in the air.
"He has eaten a dozen goats,
half as many sheep,
and one little girl already."

"Well then," said Fiorenza,
"if you cannot get near the wolf,
we must find a way to draw the wolf near you."

When next the moon grew full,
the werewolf prowled the hills
near the village of Faggiola. (1)
He came upon a slim figure in a red hat
and a long blue skirt, carrying a basket.

The werewolf sprang between two beech trees,
crying, "Now I have caught you!
I shall eat you up!"

"But if you eat me up,
who shall take the basket of pastries
to my poor old grandmother?"
came the protest.

The werewolf wrinkled his nose,
sniffing at the basket.
Indeed it gave forth a marvelous aroma.
"What do you have in the basket, little tidbit?"
he demanded.

"Pastries stuffed with spiced lamb,
pastries stuffed with cheese and olives,
and pastries stuffed with candied fruit."
The basket was opened,
and the werewolf slavered over the feast.

"I shall eat these first," he declared,
"then eat you for dessert!"
With that he swallowed the pastries whole,
so many that his belly bulged like a melon.

The werewolf licked his chops.
"Now I want my dessert," he said,
and tried to pounce,
but his full belly dragged him down.

He pursued the retreating figure,
only to stop and howl in pain.
Clutching his middle, he demanded,
"What did you put in those pastries?"

"Gravel and aconite,"
Fiorenza said calmly.

With a roar of rage,
the werewolf made one final lunge
and grabbed her by the ankle.
Fiorenza kicked him in the face,
but he did not let go.

Giacinto dashed between the trees,
panting from his long run,
and swung an axe into the werewolf's skull.
It shuddered and died.

"Cavolo!"  Fiorenza grumbled. (2)
"Now I have gotten blood all over my nice red hat.
It is surely ruined."

"Well," Giacinto said
as he prodded the furry corpse,
"you can have the pelt to make a new winter hat!"

* * *

1) Faggiola means "beech grove" in Italian.  This is the name of Giacinto's village.  Italian villages are often named after local features, and this is a common example.  Special thanks to marina_bonomi for the name.

2) Cavolo  is Italian for "cabbage."  It's a mild expression of annoyance, similar to "drat" or "darn it."

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19 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 19th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yum. ^_^ Well, not for gravel and aconite, but the other pastries sound delicious!

So no concerns over using the pelt of a sentient creature? Admittedly it was a serial killer, but no one uses the skin of a human executed for crimes, what's the distinction for a werewolf?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 19th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Yum. ^_^ Well, not for gravel and aconite, but the other pastries sound delicious!<<

Italian baked goods are decadent, judging from the research I've done. The fillings were all inspired by various recipes and descriptions I've seen while searching for this or that.

>>So no concerns over using the pelt of a sentient creature? Admittedly it was a serial killer, but no one uses the skin of a human executed for crimes, what's the distinction for a werewolf?<<

It's a creepy thing to do, but it's actually not unique. In some versions of "Little Red Riding Hood" the pelt is kept by the hunter, the grandmother, or the girl; and in a few versions it's a werewolf or anthropomorphized wolf, not just a natural wolf. It's not uncommon for heroes to keep a trophy of their kills, even talking dragons or the like.

As for humans, the skin is an uncommon choice of trophy but it has been done. There's a custom in Asia of preserving intricate tattoos:
http://theselvedgeyard.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/ancient-art-of-the-japanese-tebori-tattoo-masters-ink-in-harmony/
... and they aren't the only ones:
http://wellcomecollection.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/curious-skin/

I saw a tattooed human skin on display at a Renaissance Faire once. There was a shrunken head too.

Finally, bear in mind that historic worldviews were often less genteel than modern ones. People sometimes put heads or whole bodies on stakes, left corpses hung from trees, etc. to warn off other criminals. Unedited fairy tales can be downright gruesome, too. I haven't gone heavy on that in this series, but sometimes there may be creepy bits.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 19th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Mainly I'm teasing, I wouldn't have any real problems-- from my perspective as a basically human person, it's still 'not us'.

Whereas I'd be disturbed by an alien/creature wearing a human skin trophy, so I guess philosophies do bear some examination. Rationally there's no distinction between the two, so why is there such a strong taboo (in our society) against the practice? Probably because it's a slide from 'thou shalt not kill' to 'but if you have to kill in self-defense, you can take their stuff' to 'and wear their skins, too' and winds up in 'Hai, I'm a creepy guy taking trophies and wearing people's skins'-land.

Anyway, I digress! I love pastries with tasty fillings but I find myself torn by a desire to make what I eat healthier. Le sigh!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 19th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>Mainly I'm teasing, I wouldn't have any real problems-- from my perspective as a basically human person, it's still 'not us'.<<

Conversely, I tend to count sentient beings in the same category. It's just a bit less obvious to have a wolfskin hat than a manskin hat, because the fur makes it look like animal.

>>Rationally there's no distinction between the two, so why is there such a strong taboo (in our society) against the practice?<<

Modern America, and many other cultures, have grown away from taking trophies from slain (sentient) victims. They like to think it makes them civilized. There's not a really strong tradition of it in most of the source cultures either, and what there was is rarely considered. Ancient Celts would go head-hunting but most people have forgotten that. Now some African or Native American tribes had a much deeper tradition and might look at such activities differently.

>>I love pastries with tasty fillings but I find myself torn by a desire to make what I eat healthier.<<

Well, the ones filled with candied fruit are probably sugar bombs. But lamb is quite nutritious, and cheese/olive is reasonably so. Bread is good food. When I was in college one of my favorite lunches was the stuffed croissants from a local deli -- they had fruit-filled ones, ham and cheese, etc. Way better than a hamburger.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 19th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

But... Civilized in the eyes of Western civilization, no? So far as I know, coup-taking was a respected tradition by at least some native American tribes.

I could see an argument that keeping the skins of your enemies around promotes feuds and grudges since if you have them over to visit on an attempt to make peace, and explain to them that you have their uncle's pelt on display but it's okay because you're honoring their uncle's spirit as a worthy opponent... that's bound to be a bit of a conversation killer. Maybe? At least I don't see that peace talk going to a good place.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 20th, 2012 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>But... Civilized in the eyes of Western civilization, no?<<

True, of course.

>>So far as I know, coup-taking was a respected tradition by at least some native American tribes.<<

It was, and also among some other cultures. Some was indigenous; some was actually picked up from Europeans.

>>At least I don't see that peace talk going to a good place.<<

If the two sides don't share a culture, that's trouble. But if they do, there's a fair chance they will either 1) be pleased that the enemy was so impressed by an opponent, or 2) simply negotiate to get the remains back, which was pretty common.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 19th, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Croisasnt-like pastries are what I'm worried about-- all the butter in the crust!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 20th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

It depends on your choice of breadstuff, of course. One could just as easily bake the fillings into rolls made from water bread, which has little or no fat added. Best stay away from the Italian breakfast cakes but some of the savory breads look healthier.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 20th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Hmm. Sounds worth a try! "Water bread" is, I'm guessing, referring to bread made with mainly flour and water and yeast?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 20th, 2012 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Precisely. The sugar can be set higher (for a sweeter bread) or lower (so the yeast will eat most of it). Makes for a nice fluffy bread with a crisp crust, although you can rub butter over the top to make it softer, or beaten egg for a glossy top.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: January 20th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe look into the recipes for piroshkies? Those are savory stuffed-bread dishes from Russia, and they're completely delicious. :9

I am too intimidated by kneading to attempt any bread recipes, myself. D:
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 20th, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Not all bread recipes required kneading! Knead-and-rise breads are a subset. Many flatbreads don't require kneading. Many crusts just get mixed and rolled out. Some biscuits and rolls are also mix-and-cut. It depends on what kind of leavening (if any) and flour(s) you use, among other things.

Some recipes that don't require kneading:
http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,no_knead_bread,FF.html
http://americanfood.about.com/od/resourcesadditionalinfo/tp/No_Knead_Bread_Recipes.htm

These are mixed but some require no kneading or it's optional:
http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,no-knead_biscuits,FF.html
http://allrecipes.com/recipes/bread/flat-bread/
rowyn From: rowyn Date: January 20th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oddly, this came up in Delight, in an obscure way: when Boomstarter commented on the various trophies in Pinsitter's parlor, Delight was squicked by just one: the perdithorne hide. Because perdithorne are sapient, unlike the rest.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 20th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

That makes sense. World Tree has a real mix of sentient and nonsentient monsters ... where pretty much everything except the Primes is a "monster."
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 19th, 2012 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Also, interesting links... I found the tattoo masters link more interesting, following as it does the master-student tradition and the comment about trying to pair things in the correct seasons, not mixing them up and creating something that may be aesthetically pretty, but lacks a core truth.

It's like... My Little Ponies. Anyone can draw big-eyed little ponies. Making them express universal truths, that takes writing and work.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 19th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>I found the tattoo masters link more interesting, following as it does the master-student tradition and the comment about trying to pair things in the correct seasons, not mixing them up and creating something that may be aesthetically pretty, but lacks a core truth.<<

Yes, I really liked that one. Any well-developed artistic tradition has its own customs and symbolism. If I'm writing about it, I try to include that. So for instance, Burning Tiger over in "Paper and Tiger" was inspired by the widespread use of tigers in Asian tattoos.

>>It's like... My Little Ponies. Anyone can draw big-eyed little ponies. Making them express universal truths, that takes writing and work.<<

So far the best example of that I've seen is "(Almost) Everypony Loves Somepony Sometime." My Little Pony asexual fanfic. Gotta love it.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 19th, 2012 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Heehee. Okay, I was amused by the fanfic. ^_^ I think the writer did a good job of characterizing the ponies!

Yes... I did see MLP season 1. I blame dracosphynx.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: January 20th, 2012 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor werewolfie! Nobody likes having a Big Bad Wolf hunting down their kids. Understandably!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 21st, 2012 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Generally speaking, sympathy in this series is based on people's behavior. You eat people, the villagers come after you with ... well, something a lot more effective than torches and pitchforks!
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