Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Cat, the Herbs, and the Jewels"

This poem came out of the October 1, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] kelkyag. It also fills the "I'll interrogate the cat." square in my 10-1-19 card for the Fall Festival Bingo. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman.


"The Cat, the Herbs, and the Jewels"


Fiorenza knew something
was up the moment she saw
Marchesa Micia conspiring
with Abelie and Margherita.

"What is going on?" she asked.

But the cat played dumb
while the girls just smiled.

Fiorenza rolled her eyes
and said to her father Giordano,
"I'll interrogate the cat. You see
what you get out of the girls."

So Fiorenza picked up
Marchesa Micia by the scruff
while Giordano herded Abelie
and Margherita into the garden.

"All right now, tell me what
you three are about,"
Fiorenza said.

"You will see when
you see," said the cat,
and that was all that
she would say about it.

Giordano had got no more
from the children, and so
they were sent home without
the sweetmeats that they
usually got for their help.

Fiorenza had no idea
what to do about the cat,
the herbs, and the jewels.

The next day, however,
Marchesa Micia marched into
the village leading a little boy
a few years older than the girls.

People shouted greetings, but
he neither paused nor replied.

"That's odd," said Fiorenza.
Then she noticed that the cat
was leading him to her house.

"Is this what you three were
brewing yesterday?" she said.

The girls nodded eagerly,
then ran to meet the boy.

"Marchesa Micia, I ask you
again, what are you up to?"
the wisewoman said.

"Biagio here has lost
his family," said the cat.
"He cannot hear, and he
speaks but poorly. I thought
he would be happier with
the girls and old Sophia."

The widow had gone
deaf and mute from age,
so now she made gestures
with her hands instead of speech.

She got along quite well with the girls
who could only speak in flowers and stones.
Probably the little boy would fit right in.

Abelie and Margherita chattered
at Biagio, showering him with
jewels and blooming herbs.

Confused, he looked at Fiorenza.

She pointed to her mouth and ears,
then shook her head to tell him that
the girls could not speak aloud.

Then she fetched the book
of meanings to show him that
starwort meant welcome to
a stranger and peridot
stood for beginnings.

Biagio grinned and
hugged her tight.

Abelie chattered again,
trying to convince Biagio
to come and play, for
parsley meant festivity.

Biagio grabbed it and
started to taste it, then
hesitated, looking up
at the wisewoman.

"Yes, you can eat that,
we do it all the time,"
Fiorenza said, popping
a bit in her mouth.

"That's one of
his favorites,"
said the cat.

"In that case,
Margherita, go get
us some pigeons; and
Abelie, start a stock."
said Fiorenza. "We
shall have pigeon soup
for supper tonight."

Abelie left off coaxing
Biagio to play and
went to the kitchen,
where she spoke herbs
into a cauldron of water.

Biagio became excited and
hugged Fiorenza again.

He lisped horribly,
and his voice had
a strange flat sound,
but Fiorenza could still
make out, "Thank you."

The matter of the cat,
the herbs, and the jewels
had turned out fine after all.

* * *

Notes:

Aspects of this poem have their roots in "Marchesa Micia," "Pearls and Posies," and "Pigeon Soup."

Starwort -- welcome to a stranger

Peridot -- understanding changes in life, renewal, beginnings

Parsley -- Festivity

Enjoy a recipe for Pigeon Soup.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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