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Poem: "Leading the Followers" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Leading the Followers"

This poem came out of the November 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from thesilentpoet.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.

Leading the Followers

Fiorenza had spent so many years
as the wild child of the village
that it startled her to discover
the little ones looking up to her
like some kind of role model.

Now when she walked through the streets
with her skirts askew or her trousers on
because she had forgotten to change into skirts,
little girls scampered after her,
mimicking whatever she did.

There were the sisters Margherita and Abelie,
awkwardly blessed by a fata
so that they only spoke in pearls and posies.
Fiorenza might have excused this as simple hero-worship,
since after all she was the one who helped them
find new ways to communicate without their voices.

When she stopped at the church garden, though,
the children working there with their parents
romped around her asking about this herb or that one.

There were Fiorenza's cousins Elene and Columbine,
daughters of her aunt Carine;
and Fiorenza's cousins Durante and Frederico
sons of her aunt Graziella.
They chattered about Aunt Zola's apple orchard
and asked Fiorenza what was coming ripe
in her own gardens.

Whenever something went wrong
and a cry went up for someone to settle it,
the children of the village looked to Fiorenza.

There were Lanzo and Paola,
the younger brother and sister of Nicilo,
who knew the patience that she showed
to the veteran Ercole after a cannonball broke his skull.
It didn't matter whether Lanzo had taken Paola's doll
or Paola had hidden Lanzo's toy soldiers,
or something more obscure. 
They looked to her.

Sometimes on a sunny day,
the children would all run after her
in a great tumbling herd,
or fall into a line as if balancing atop a fence,
so that she found herself
leading the followers
all through the streets.

When Fiorenza got to the gate
at the edge of the village,
she would have to shoo them all away
so that she could go home.

It made her think,
a whole new course of consideration,
about whether she should change anything,
and if so what,
about what she did.

Would they grow up wild or tame?
Fiorenza wondered to herself
as she gathered a basket of herbs.
Would they learn to solve problems
with their wits or with their fists?

she mused as her hands stripped
green leaves from brown stems.
Would they better off seeing her
pert as pepper or plain as parsley?

she thought as she stuffed the leaves
into bottles of oil or alcohol to steep.

Then Fiorenza laughed
and decided to be herself.
The village had women enough
who were plain as parsley,
if the children wanted to follow them.
It could do with a dash of pepper.

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Current Mood: busy busy

6 comments or Leave a comment
zianuray From: zianuray Date: November 9th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Lovely and Lively!

(I'd rather be pepper :) )

the children "working their" with their parents
Working there, perhaps?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 9th, 2012 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Lovely and Lively!

I'm glad you like this.

I've fixed the typo.
From: technoshaman Date: November 9th, 2012 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Aaaah, you and your endings! A dash of chipoltle *always* helps!

One other typo... I think... midway through the penultimate stanza, "wits or fists"?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 9th, 2012 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>Aaaah, you and your endings! A dash of chipoltle *always* helps!<<

Spice of life, heh.

>>One other typo... I think... midway through the penultimate stanza, "wits or fists"?<<

siege From: siege Date: November 9th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's quite a batch of poems this time around!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 9th, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)


I wrote 21 on Tuesday, another 4 on Wednesday, and all but 4 have been sponsored already. That does add up. It's been an awesome fishbowl. I declared a stretch goal with bonus material to be released if donations reach $500.
6 comments or Leave a comment