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Poem: "Her Crystalline Voice" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Her Crystalline Voice"
Here is the linkback perk for the January 7, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl and the January 21, 2013 bonus session.  If you link to the fishbowl, make a comment and include the URL to reveal a verse of this poem.  If you link on different services, you can get multiple verses.

This poem came out of the January 22, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user Chordatesrock.

All 21 verses have been posted.  Linkers include: siege, janetmiles, rix_scaedu, wyld_dandelyon, thnidu, DW user Perfectworry, mdlbear, technoshaman.

Her Crystalline Voice

Fiorenza and Don Candido
looked at each other over the poorbox,
which held handfuls of quartz --
that could mean so many different things --
confident garnet and calm jasper,
maternal moonstone and truthful lapis,
and a single deep red ruby
of courage and devotion.

"I do not think we can hide her here forever,"
Don Candido said quietly. "Margherita's gift
will get her noticed sooner or later."
He turned to watch the little girl
silently reading from his Bible.

When she spoke, she spoke only in jewels,
for a fata had spelled away her voice;
and if she spoke too much she grew tired
from the drain of magic.
Like her sister Abelie who spoke in flowers,
Margherita relied a lot on the hand-talk
that she was learning from a deaf woman.

Even so, her crystalline voice
was making itself known.
"We can give her enough time
to grow up with her family," Fiorenza said.
"When she is a young woman, perhaps
she will want to go to Rome and read for the Pope."

Don Candido huffed. "More likely,
she will want to read to the poor," he said.
"I give the girl her lessons every week --
she is not easily dazzled by greatness
and far more concerned about doing good."

Fiorenza trailed her hand through the stones.
It was simple enough to distribute the cheap ones
to people in need, who bartered with goods
when they did not have coins.
A broken necklace of quartz or coral beads
became useful trade stock among the peasants.

"This will have to go to Fermo," Don Candido said
as he handed the ruby to Fiorenza. She nodded.
There was nowhere else nearby where
they could turn such a thing into usable coins.
If she went to a different jeweler each time,
she could avoid suspicion.

The pearls, well, there were a lot of those --
purity and sorrow -- for sometimes
Margherita would cry herself sick.
You could lose a lot of pearls in a port city,
though, and never catch a second glance,
especially if you sewed them to gloves
or handkerchiefs to sell in the market.

The copper and silver and sometimes gold coins
came back to the village from the city,
handed around to do what good might be done.

"I wonder if we're not upsetting someone's trade,"
Fiorenza said quietly. "Otoniel the merchant
goes on and on about such things, but I'm afraid
most of it's over my head. My skills
lie in healing and cooking and growing things,
not so much in reckoning."

"Margherita has about as much effect
as a small mine," Don Candido said,
"but less concentrated because she gives forth
so many different stones, not all one kind
like gems found in the veins of a natural mine."

"You sound more familiar with such things,"
Fiorenza said to him.

"The Church tutors its priests in reckoning;
I can keep track of the matter well enough,"
Don Candido replied. "If necessary,
we can always bury some of the gems."

Italy was old, and had been old long before
the Church or the princes ever came.
Even now, farmers occasionally turned up
a casket of tarnished silver coins
or forgotten jewelry from ancient days.
What was one more cache cracked by a plow?

As long as they did not release too much
of one stone, or too many in a short time,
or all from the same person, they could
spread out the bounty enough
to keep from attracting the wrong attention.
If someone eventually cried thief, well,
they could deal with that at the time.

Abelie came in from the parish garden
and Margherita greeted her --
dropping an emerald as she did so,
for it was a healing stone
and her sister was studying herbs.
She was distracted, and the stone
came forth with a clear crack in it.

Fiorenza smacked it ruthlessly
against the back of a pew,
breaking it in half.
Smaller or flawed stones
were easier to trade away
without raising questions.

"I'll take these to Fermo too,"
she said, tucking the shards away
along with the ruby.

Fragments of color,
words turned to stone,
all from a carelessly cast spell --

a girl's voice reft away and changed
to something that could buy
food and cloth and heat
for those who needed them,
but could never return
the sound with which she was born.

For all the good those stones did
in the village and the wide lands beyond,
Fiorenza and Don Candido both knew
that the most precious thing they could buy
was time.

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

14 comments or Leave a comment
siege From: siege Date: January 7th, 2014 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2014 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Your verse is up.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2014 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: 4 links

I have your four verses posted, thanks!
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: January 7th, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2014 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I have posted your verse.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 21st, 2014 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Your verses are up.
From: technoshaman Date: January 22nd, 2014 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Linked the bonus fishbowl on FB..
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 22nd, 2014 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Your new verse is up.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: January 25th, 2014 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

More linkbacks

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 25th, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: More linkbacks

Thank you! I have posted the remaining verses.

I do, sometimes, get new people. They rarely tell me how they found my blog. It's okay. I appreciate the signal boost anyhow.
From: technoshaman Date: January 27th, 2014 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
that the most precious thing they could buy
was time.

How well do I know this. I'm at the point where your bog-standard single-digit-percent pay raise makes little difference to me... but DAMN how is a forty-something gent with `ohana scattered from West Seattle to West 57th to Wiltshire supposed to have a sane life on two weeks' vaca? I'm gonna tell'em point blank... keep your damn money, give me TIME...


ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 27th, 2014 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)


Well, civilized countries furnish people with a lot more vacation time, and family-leave time too. Here in America the "family values" crowd mostly supports things that undermine human relationships. It's a problem.
14 comments or Leave a comment