ysabetwordsmith: (Fiorenza)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the February 17, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer and LJ user Ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "I can't stop thinking about you when we're apart" square in my 1-31-15 card for the Valentine's Day Bingo Fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman.


"Magic and Pasta"


Giacinto watched Fiorenza
tend the blue thumb that Pasquale
had smashed with a hammer
while helping to make a nest box
for the family of griffins.

He never tired of having her around,
and indeed, wished that they could
be together always instead of
only sometimes.

Well, perhaps something
could be done about that.

Fiorenza was always looking after
other people, and so who was
going to take care of her?

"As long as you're here, Fiorenza,"
"I could cook supper for you," Giacinto said.
I'll need to go foraging for some things,
but I should be home by late afternoon."

It was early spring, still, but
he knew of a little hidden valley
full of dark slate and southern sun,
which should have warmed up enough
for a bit of quick foraging.

"I'd be delighted," said Fiorenza.

So Giacinto took a few things from his pantry,
bought what he could at the village market,
then took his gathering basket and
went out to the woods, his skirts
tucked up to avoid the damp ground.

He found plenty of cicoria and purslane,
picking off the tiny green leaves.
He even found a few porcini mushrooms,
which would grill up beautifully.

What he did not find was the spicy strioli
that he intended as a base for his spaghetti sauce.

Grumbling, Giacinto stalked from one patch
of woods to another, passing farmers in their fields.

One little girl he did not know -- likely a traveling worker
hired to help with the busy spring planting, the earliest
of which was already underway -- waved to him,
beckoning him to the edge of the field.

"I see that you have a gathering basket," she said.
"If you're seeking spring greens, I can help you.
I know all the best places to look."

Giacinto raised an eyebrow. "Do you now,"
he said, "for I haven't seen you around here before."

"Oh, I have my ways," the child said
with a high, tinkling laugh.

Giacinto was a little suspicious --
for who would tell their gathering places? --
but also a lot more desperate, because
it was getting on toward late afternoon
and he had better hurry if he wanted
to get the ingredients in time to cook them.

"Very well," he said. "Lead the way."

At once the girl set down her empty sling of seeds
and scampered off into the trees, taking Giacinto
into the very darkest part of the forest.

"I'm hunting greens, not mushrooms,"
Giacinto pointed out.

"There's a clearing up ahead," and
so there was, full of delectable little leaves.

No sooner did he dig his hands into the strioli
than someone grabbed him from behind,
screeching, "Thief! Steal my greens, will you?
I'll show you what happens to foolish mortals
who stray where they should never go!"

He was still protesting about his girl guide --
who of course was nowhere to be seen now --
when he was shoved into a tree and sealed up inside.

This was turning into a completely wretched
waste of a once-promising day.

Giacinto huddled in the splintery darkness,
trying to focus his thoughts enough to send
Fiorenza a hunch, if anything could get through
the probably magical tree imprisoning him.

Other than that, there was little he could do;
he hadn't enough room to do more than wriggle a bit.

When the tree finally opened, the clearing
was almost dark but for the moon overhead
and the last glimmers of twilight.

Fiorenza was giving hell to La Befana herself
about how the fairy woman really needed
to tend her daughters better so that they
would not go about stealing people,
particularly handsome young men who
had already made plans with someone else,
thank you very much.

"I really did believe I had permission," said Giacinto.
"That little girl said it would be all right -- I thought
she had made arrangements with the owner
of this woodlot, like polite people do." He glared
at the moppet who was trying to hide behind La Befana.

"And we'll be having a full basket of that strioli, too,
by way of apology," Fiorenza concluded.

Giacinto had never been so in love with her as now.

"Very well," said La Befana, marching off the girl
to fill the remainder of Giacinto's gathering basket.

"I'm sorry about all this," Giacinto said to Fiorenza.

"It's not your fault," she said. "You promised
to cook me a meal and I intend to collect it."

"You're not angry about how the day went astray,
or how you had to come and rescue me?" Giacinto said.

Fiorenza just shrugged. "Of course not. I got you back;
that's what matters. Life is a combination of magic and pasta.
Whyever would I be complaining about that?"

Giacinto laughed, for if ever there was a perfect woman
for him, surely it was Fiorenza of Nocciolaia.

They walked back to the village through
the shadowing woods, with a disgruntled fairy
leading the way with a lantern on a pole.

Back at home, Giacinto nibbled his lip
and shuffled his feet over the thought
of having to cook with Fiorenza watching.

She just chuckled and said,
"It's late already, and supper will
reach the table sooner if I help. Can you
tell me where I might find an apron?"

Giacinto directed her to the drawer
that held aprons and dish towels, then
handed off the salad greens for Fiorenza
to rinse clean while he set up the pasta
and the strioli for its sauce.

The mushrooms he cleaned quickly,
brushed with herbs, and put
to cook on a griddle.

When Giacinto brought out the toasted almonds
and the red-wine vinegar for the salad, Fiorenza said,
"You must have put some serious thought into this."

"I can't stop thinking about you when
we're apart," Giacinto admitted.

When Fiorenza kissed him,
her lips were peppery with the taste
of the greens she had been sampling,
and Giacinto decided that

really it had been an excellent day after all.

* * *

Notes:

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
-- Federico

Foraging in Italy can turn up such treats as cicoria (dandelion greens), purslane, strioli, and porcini. Practice safe and ethical foraging.

Read about Italian fairies.

Porcini are delicious grilled.

Dandelion greens make exellent salad.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-24 03:35 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I love every part of this, but my favorite part is:


Fiorenza was giving hell to La Befana herself...

Giacinto had never been so in love with her as now.



I like Fiorenza's gumption, and Giacinto's insistence on doing what's right, and how he loves Fiorenza because of who she is.

FUN

Date: 2015-02-24 04:24 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
The situation between the two is intriguing because they don't follow traditional paths at all, and love each other for those very real differences.

That he's the one needing rescue is a reversal of the usual story is another kind of fun, of course, but that he immediately starts looking for anything he can do to help himself makes the situation even more interesting.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-24 02:30 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tadpoleacorn
*Laughs* Oops. I had wondered if the little girl was more fae than not...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-24 02:49 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (food porn)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Very, very nice!

Missing note:
In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5) in a similar way to St Nicholas or Santa Claus. A popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany or in Italian, "La Festa dell'Epifania".WP

Edited Date: 2015-02-24 02:52 am (UTC)

Thoughts

Date: 2015-02-24 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Very, very nice! <<

Thank you!

>> Missing note: <<

Yeah, that's all the kind of thing I could find this time, but earlier, I was reading things about her being the queen or grandmother of fairies, and that's mainly how I've written her. So the Christmas reference seemed kind of off-topic.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-02-24 03:04 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Ahh, so it wasn't just an oversight (which would have been atypical of you). :-)

Yum!

Date: 2015-02-24 03:22 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
The poem came out as nicely as the dinner did! Reminded me of the times I made dinner for my spouse during our courtship, and how important food compatibilty (and cooking together!) was for us.

I was expecting the fae to be involved once I covered the Fiorenza background material. I enjoyed how the motivation for the fae daughter seemed more likely to be mischief, with a side of not treating the fae lightly, than outright evil.

I suspect the daughter was planning to return in a day or two to let Giacinto back out of the tree -- otherwise, she could probably have arranged a fatal outcome. The ending might still have been dire, though, had she (as youngsters often do) not recalled her mischief the next day.

I suspect she'll get a stern talking-to from Mom, regarding going beyond surface emotions (gathering greens for one's beloved) and seeing that Giacinto in fact had a good deal of respect for the fae already (I can't imagine Fiorenza getting involved with anyone who wouldn't), and would have respectfully asked the daughter for her aid had he but known she was fae. A good growing-up lesson for the kid.

Re: Yum!

Date: 2015-02-24 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> The poem came out as nicely as the dinner did! <<

Yay!

>> Reminded me of the times I made dinner for my spouse during our courtship, and how important food compatibilty (and cooking together!) was for us. <<

Food was important for me and [livejournal.com profile] my_partner_doug too. Hilariously, he had been plying me with Snapple fruit drinks -- my favorite -- all summer when the Milwaukee paper came out with a line of worst pickup lines ever, of which one was: "Buy you a Snapple?" :D Know your target audience.

>> I was expecting the fae to be involved once I covered the Fiorenza background material. I enjoyed how the motivation for the fae daughter seemed more likely to be mischief, with a side of not treating the fae lightly, than outright evil. <<

That's how it usually is. They're more inclined to be pesky than malicious, but you don't want to mess with them.

>> I suspect the daughter was planning to return in a day or two to let Giacinto back out of the tree -- otherwise, she could probably have arranged a fatal outcome. The ending might still have been dire, though, had she (as youngsters often do) not recalled her mischief the next day. <<

Actually the plan was for the younger sister to bait and capture him for the delectation of her older sister. Your basic "captive bride" romance scenario, just with the genders flipped.

They're learning that you don't want to mess with Fiorenza either.

>> I suspect she'll get a stern talking-to from Mom, <<

Ohhh, yeah ...

>> regarding going beyond surface emotions (gathering greens for one's beloved) and seeing that Giacinto in fact had a good deal of respect for the fae already (I can't imagine Fiorenza getting involved with anyone who wouldn't), and would have respectfully asked the daughter for her aid had he but known she was fae. A good growing-up lesson for the kid. <<

... because look at the parallel with taking things that don't belong to you.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-24 04:30 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (happydance)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Okay, that one snuck up on me, TWICE.... I smelt a trap, but not *that* kind... and I *really* didn't expect Fiorenza to be the one giving the what-for... and especially not to an Entity of Power!

But then again, obviously Giacinto's love-powered message had bested the tree... both the cry for help, and the carrier wave... and Fiorenza makes it clear that those feelings are not unrequited. Cooking is love, and her offer to help isn't a rejection of his offer as an enthusiastic sharing of it.

Interestingly, in the middle of typing this reply, the alarm went off on the rice cooker, signalling that my own act of cookery - which, but for one of our denizens who is allergic, would have included mushrooms. Though, in this case, it wasn't an act of courtship, but part of our little girl's birthday present. ("Our" in that the possession arrow between me and the Duchess points in the other direction... :) )

Thoughts

Date: 2015-02-24 04:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Okay, that one snuck up on me, TWICE.... I smelt a trap, but not *that* kind...<<

Yay!

>> and I *really* didn't expect Fiorenza to be the one giving the what-for... and especially not to an Entity of Power! <<

Not like it's the first time she's read someone the riot act, though, and she is not overawed by status.

>> But then again, obviously Giacinto's love-powered message had bested the tree... both the cry for help, and the carrier wave... <<

Yep. He's no slouch himself, to be punching through fey wards like that.

>> and Fiorenza makes it clear that those feelings are not unrequited. Cooking is love, and her offer to help isn't a rejection of his offer as an enthusiastic sharing of it. <<

More subtly, she is the best cook in her village. So cooking with him indicates that she wants an equal relationship: neither sitting back and expecting him to do all the work of supporting the family, nor ousting him from his own place.

>> Interestingly, in the middle of typing this reply, the alarm went off on the rice cooker, signalling that my own act of cookery - which, but for one of our denizens who is allergic, would have included mushrooms. <<

:D

>> Though, in this case, it wasn't an act of courtship, but part of our little girl's birthday present. ("Our" in that the possession arrow between me and the Duchess points in the other direction... :) ) <<

So in a more detailed pronoun set it would say "our (to-whom-we-belong) little girl" ...? Any road, happy birthday!

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-02-24 04:55 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
She belongs to her mama, but I belong to her. She said so, and that settles it. :)

More subtly, she is the best cook in her village. So cooking with him indicates that she wants an equal relationship: neither sitting back and expecting him to do all the work of supporting the family, nor ousting him from his own place.

*Oh.* 2+2=..... 5? She's been thinking about this, and not just since Giacinto's frantic plea for help...

I'll be after having that next bit.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-02-24 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> She belongs to her mama, but I belong to her. She said so, and that settles it. :) <<

That's fair.

>> *Oh.* 2+2=..... 5? She's been thinking about this, and not just since Giacinto's frantic plea for help... <<

Absolutely. They've been poking around the edges of a relationship for months, have decided that they definitely like each other, but the logistics ... *wince*. Hence the delay in discussing the future, until they got a sharp poke.

>> I'll be after having that next bit. <<

:D

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-24 04:30 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
p.s. I'll want to see more of this thread! :)

Well...

Date: 2015-02-24 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
There is in fact one more piece written, "Il Vero Prezzo" ($20), in which Giacinto and Fiorenza discuss their options for the future.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-28 07:10 pm (UTC)
rowyn: (Me 2012)
From: [personal profile] rowyn
Fiorenza to the rescue! She's good at that. n_n

Yes...

Date: 2015-02-28 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
All part of the job! :D

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