This poem came out of the January 17, 2012 bonus fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from siliconshaman and marina_bonomi, and also touches on Italian renditions of "Puss in Boots." It belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman; you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.
This poem is posted here as the linkback perk for the March 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. All 20 verses are now posted.
You can reveal extra verses by linking to a specific poem you enjoy, or the unsold poetry list when it goes live. So far participants include: wyld_dandelyon, moon_fox, the_vulture, janetmiles, marina_bonomi, meeksp, kelkyag, red_trillium, cat_sanctuary, jjhunter, mdlbear, shadows_gallery, rix_scaedu
When Fiorenza came home
to find Mad Ercole talking
to a little black cat with white paws,
she thought nothing of it at first,
for he often spoke
to animals, or plants, or clouds.
"Of course, Ercole,"
the cat replied in a cultured voice.
"I will gladly eat the field mice in the garden."
Fiorenza was so startled that she dropped her basket.
"How is it," said Fiorenza,
"that we have acquired a talking cat?"
"She asked for food,
and the mice are eating up our garden,"
"I have no home," said the cat.
"My master Constantino Fortunato
has made peace with his brothers Dusolino and Tesifone,
so he no longer needs my assistance.
I am Marchesa Micia, and if you let me stay here,
I will do you many favors."
"Very well," said Fiorenza, "you are welcome to stay
so long as you keep the mice from my garden."
She turned an old barrel on its side
and stuffed it with straw,
making a fine little shelter for Micia.
All went well until Don Candido came calling
in want of some summer savory.
Micia dashed across his path in pursuit of a mouse
and Don Candido commenced yelling at the top of his lungs.
"Fiorenza!" he called as he pounded on her door.
"There is a black cat in your garden.
You must get rid of it at once,
for the Devil is surely in it
and nothing but bad luck can come of this."
"Why, Don Candido," said Micia,
"I am a cat by nature,
and God pleased to dress me
in a black coat with white stockings.
I do not say that the Devil is in you
because of your nature!"
"The devil-cat talks,"
Don Candido sputtered.
"Neither do I say the Devil is in Pasquale
for chasing skirts, nor in Otoniel for his greed,
nor even Annalisa who has no more wits than a hen,"
said Micia. She began to clean between her fine white toes.
"Don Candido, please leave Micia alone,"
Fiorenza said with a sigh.
"She has done no evil here,
except to the mice in the garden.
Now I don't want you going on about her
like you did with the tomatoes."
"That cat is entirely too familiar
with the private business of this village,"
Don Candido grumbled.
"Oh, my friend," Fiorenza said,
"there is no 'private' business in a village!
Everyone has her nose in everyone else's kitchen."
Don Candido gave up then,
taking his summer savory back to the church.
So Micia continued to go about the village,
poking her black nose into everything,
making the old wives gasp and the children giggle.
Sometimes she would carry the news home to Fiorenza,
for it was helpful that a wisewoman should know
what was going on, and Fiorenza had little time for gossip.
Then one afternoon Don Candido rushed into the cottage
with the cat in his arms, yowling piteously.
"Oh dear, it looks as if she has eaten something disagreeable,"
Fiorenza said as she took the cat from him.
"How in the world did that happen?"
"Well, she said that the Pope's tithe collector
smelled like an ogre in disguise,
so she engaged him in a contest of riddles,
then taunted him into becoming a mouse,
whereupon she devoured him,"
Don Candido explained.
"I will take care of her," Fiorenza said.
"You go on home now."
So Don Candido petted Micia one last time
and left her in the herbalist's care.
Fiorenza brought oat grass for the miserable cat.
Micia ate the grass and retched up the remains of the ogre.
Then Fiorenza fed her bread soaked in broth,
and put her in a basket by the hearth.
After that, however,
there was no more talk of black cats and the Devil.