This poem came out of the March 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from e_scapism101 and Dreamwidth user jjhunter. It was sponsored by Anthony and Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman, and you can find the other poems through the Serial Poetry page.
Giacinto is used to
walking through the village of Faggiola (1)
with gossip swirling around his ankles like streamwater.
Vitalia the baker hands over her extra buns
for Giacinto to take to his mother Agostina,
and asks if he will let his hair grow as long as a girl's.
Giacinto flicks his shoulder-length locks out of his face
and murmurs, "Not much longer than this, I think."
Silvano the woodcutter brings a load of logs
from the beech forest above the village,
then tips his hat as if Giacinto were a girl.
"There's a handsome lad come with the tinkers,"
Silvano says as he stacks the firewood.
"So I hear," Giacinto says,
though he does not care for handsome lads.
Delanna the shepherdess comes to Giacinto
with her herd of white Fabrianese sheep,
seeking a dip to relieve the fleas.
"I miss when your mother would visit me
in the hills," she says with a sigh.
"As does my mother," Giacinto replies.
The constant tut-tutting of villagers
is as familiar to him as the clucking of hens.
So long as they come to him at need,
he will abide it. It is no one's fault
that a wisewoman is expected to be a woman
or that Agostina gave birth to a son instead of a daughter.
"Do not fret over it," the wisewoman says,
patting him with a wrinkled hand.
"You will grow into your place here,
and they will grow used to you.
When I was a girl, it was my mother they wished for!"
"I'm sure you're right, mother," Giacinto replies.
Then one day, Fiorenza comes to Faggiola,
towing an addled veteran along
to see if anything might be done
to restore the balance of his mind.
Agostina spends hours weaving a witch's subtle spells,
piecing together a path through the overgrown thicket
of his thoughts, a twist here, a turn there.
It will never be straight again, but it will have to do.
Giacinto and Fiorenza stroll through the gardens,
speaking of herbs and how best to soothe Ercole
on the bad days or the sleepless nights.
The villagers see them together,
Giacinto the striòs and Fiorenza the wisewoman, (2)
not holding hands but close enough to do so.
Giacinto just smiles, knowing that
the gossips will have something new to talk about now.
* * *
1) Faggiola means "beech grove" and is the name of Giacinto's village. Many Italian villages are named in this fashion, after notable local features. Special thanks to Marina Bonomi for providing the name.
2) Striòs means "witch-son" or "male-witch." Although folkloric witches are often thought of as female, there are exceptions.