"Dreams of Little Feet"
When Bettina trudged up
to Fiorenza's door one day,
the wisewoman had an idea
what might be the trouble.
"Arrigo and I have been married
for a good while, and the saints know
we're trying, but we've had no good news,"
the young wife said sadly. "Is there
anything you could recommend?"
"Sometimes it takes magic to make life,"
said Fiorenza, who had after all helped
Bettina to bake a husband from
enchanted dough. "Here is
what we must do ..."
All in all, it took a month
for Bettina to pluck a bag of wool
from ewes who had dropped healthy lambs,
a second month for Bettina and Fiorenza
to do the spinning and the dyeing, then
a third month for Fiorenza to crochet
the yarn into booties and blanket
for a baby to come.
They traded with a passing merchant
for a box full of broken jewelry --
not for nothing was Bettina
her father's daughter! -- and
Fiorenza cut the pins from
the backs of broken brooches.
"I have dreams of little feet,"
Bettina said, "but I don't know
if they will ever come true."
Fiorenza patted her shoulder.
"Have faith," she said.
"Your dreams will come true.
We just have to wait for
the next full moon."
That evening they stretched out
the baby blanket over the ceiling
of Bettina's bedroom and used
seven silver pins to fasten
the threads of a dream
to the fabric of the night.
From one corner dangled
the pair of booties with
button pearls crocheted
into them for fertility,
as bright as tiny stars.
"Now what do we do?"
Bettina asked, looking up
at the beautiful display.
"Now you go and seduce that
handsome husband of yours,"
Fiorenza said with a wink, and
left her friend to the happy task.
Fiorenza did not tell Bettina how
she had spun so much of herself
into the yarn that it had soaked up
not just a great deal of energy but
several months of her own fertility --
but now was a good time
for Bettina to have a baby,
and it wasn't yet for Fiorenza.
Sometimes the cost of magic
was something you wanted to pay.
* * *
Traditionally, pearls symbolize fertility.
See the pearl booties and baby blanket.