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Poem: "The Godfather" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "The Godfather"
This poem came out of the January 17, 2012 bonus fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from thesilentpoet, aldersprig, marina_bonomi, and ankewehner.  Fiorenza and Don Candido talk about their respective roles in the village.  You can find out more about this series on the Serial Poetry page.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth.There is a permanent donation button onmy profile page,or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.

So far sponsors include: the_vulture marina_bonomi, general fund

106 lines, Buy It Now = $53
Amount donated = $30.00
Verses posted = 11 of 22

Amount remaining to fund fully = $23.00
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $1.50

The Godfather

Once a month Fiorenza went to church
to help Don Candido remove wax
from the fixtures that held the herbal candles.
The wax smelled sweetly of such things
as rosemary or bayberry or our lady's bedstraw,
a hint of summer even in winter.

Fiorenza sighed,
blowing her black curls out of her face.
"What is the matter?"
Don Candido asked her.

"Ah, it is the old women again,"
said Fiorenza.
"Some of them still think
I am too young to be wisewoman,
though there is no one else to do it."

Don Candido nodded.
"They say much the same of me,
that I am too young to be the village priest,"
he said.  "Some elders will never accept
a different authority than the one
they knew growing up."

Fiorenza twisted the little dull knife,
prying loose a piece of beeswax
streaked red-brown with cinnamon.
"I barely remember Don Angelo,"
she said.  "He was just the man in the church.
Then one day, Grandmother took me to the door
and you were there instead,
so nervous in your new vestments."

"I remember you too," Don Candido said,
"all knees and elbows behind that basket of herbs."
He rubbed oil over one of the candle holders
to remove the last bits of wax.

"You know how I came to be wisewoman,
for you said the service when my grandmother Carmela died,"
Fiorenza said.  "You never told me, though,
how you came to be a priest so young."

"I suppose it is because of my godfather,"
said Don Candido.  "There is a tradition in my family
that a thirteenth child is given Death for a godfather."

"A pretty conceit," said Fiorenza,
but Don Candido shook his head.
"It is the truth," he insisted.
"Death comes to the church for the baptism
and the confirmation.
Then there is a gift when the child reaches majority --
some use it foolishly, but I would never.
I respect my godfather too much for that."

"I wonder what sort of gift Death would give,"
Fiorenza mused.  "I do not know him well.
He and I are often at odds."

"When I became a man, Death showed me
a great cathedral all filled with blazing candles,"
Don Candido explained.  "Each candle was a life,
short ones for elders, long ones for children, and so on."
The priest took fresh candles from their box,
carefully trimming and shaping the wicks.

"When I visit the housebound, my godfather
shows me their candles, so that I know
whether they will live or will die soon.
Then I know what prayers to say,"
Don Candido said.  "It is a great gift.
Everyone was so impressed,
they assigned me a village despite my youth."

"Yes, I can see that," Fiorenza said quietly.
"It must be a precious thing to know,
however hard to bear."

"No harder than it is for you," he said,
"when the signs of a body tell you the same.
My godfather has always been gentle with me."

Fiorenza pondered that
as she fetched another box of candles.
"I have known Death to be gentle,"
she said, "but I have also
known him to be cruel as a cat."

"I think that Death is more compassionate
that most people realize," the priest said.
"It is merely that he knows things we do not."

"I have seen horrid old men
die peacefully in their sleep,
and little children die screaming,"
said Fiorenza.

"Have you never seen a horrid old man
give a coin to a beggar child,
or a child throw stones at a dog?"
Don Candido countered.
"It is enough for me to know when
a life will end, so I may choose my prayers."

Fiorenza finished her candle holder
and watched Don Candido
carefully fitting new candles into the cups.
"Why do you always hold candles with both hands?"
she wondered.  "It's not like they're terribly fragile."

"My godfather warned me
never to drop a candle,
nor spill the consecrated oil or salt,
nor leave my hat upon a bed,"
Don Candido said.
"I try to follow his advice."

"Well, I think we are done for the day,"
Fiorenza said as she wiped her hands on a rag.
They packed the supplies away.
Don Candido thanked her,
and Fiorenza said, "It was no trouble."

Then she paused at the door and added,
"Please give my regards to your godfather."

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

20 comments or Leave a comment
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: January 30th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, I'm so glad this has started in microfunding!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 30th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: January 31st, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
You amaze me...I so wish I had the extra cash to buy a verse or two right now!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 3rd, 2012 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like this poem.

Remember that there are non-cash methods of support too, such as linking to your favorite poems or the Fishbowl Open posts. You can also prompt for more poems about your favorite characters.
siege From: siege Date: February 12th, 2012 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Do not drop a candle,
For yours may be shortened thereby.
Spill not the holy things, but
Sprinkle or pour with intention
That the blessing may enter with force
And deliberation --
Never clumsiness or foolishness.
And lay not your hat upon the bed,
For sleep and endings may climb within
And work upon your mind.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 12th, 2012 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)
That really sheds light on Death's advice. Did you write that?
siege From: siege Date: February 12th, 2012 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I did, though without references, so I may have these beliefs a little bit sideways. Also, I could have separated the subjects into verses and written the last one a little more poetically with reference to the "candle" or "light" of the mind.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 12th, 2012 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
You've always the right to amend and develop it, but, regardless, nicely done!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 12th, 2012 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)


This is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing.

I think it might benefit from stanza breaks to highlight the different points of advice, but on the whole, it works.

I'll link this in the "Extra" for Fiorenza.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 12th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm so very glad to see this fully funded. It really gives a great sense of humanity to both Don Candido and Death. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 12th, 2012 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm pleased to be able to share it. This version of Death is different than the ones I've worked with before, but I like him too. He is, like them, widely misunderstood ... but at least he's got folks like Don Candido.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 12th, 2012 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I've got an interesting picture of Death; it's Terry Pratchett's fault. :)
From: technoshaman Date: August 9th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Mine's the fault of Piers Anthony.

Writers like that - and like those here - give a helpful perspective.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 9th, 2013 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Sooth. I like the versions of Death that those two writers came up with. Mine vary, but are almost always positive. Because everybody deserves friends and somebody had ought to be saying thank you for all that hard work.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: February 12th, 2012 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that we see Fiorenza learning something here and perhaps starting to change her view!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 17th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)


That's good to hear. I think that Fiorenza and Don Candido are gradually learning how to be flexible with each other.
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: January 25th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting! I like it!!

But shouldn't this be "child" here?

"Have you never seen a horrid old man
give a coin to a beggar child,
or a children throw stones at a dog?"
Don Candido countered.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 26th, 2013 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you liked this.

Typo fixed.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 7th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
The formatting in this is broken, all the html is showing up in the text
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 7th, 2014 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)


Try it now.
20 comments or Leave a comment