Pitchforks and sticks

pitchforks and sticks

 

Perhaps it didn’t happen that way

French soldiers dragging a farmer’s daughter into the barn

out in the fields papa hears her screams

runs, pitchfork in hand, yelling, “mia figlia!”

other farmers grab pitchforks

women sticks and rocks

taking up the cry

their daughters too have been found sobbing among the wheat

clothes torn, bodies bleeding

“mia figlia” becomes a battlecry

heard throughout the island

an army of farmers with pitchforks

women with sticks

driving out the French conquistatori 

 

perhaps it didn’t happen that way

perhaps it was una madre striking a Moorish

or Spanish soldier from behind with a heavy pot

cursing as only the women can

when their daughters are violated

tired madre 

1500-years weary

basta” she muttered often

until resistance became a woman’s song

for generations she told her sons

keep quiet, don’t let anyone know

it’s too dangerous to speak about it

words have power

don’t think it or it’ll come true

don’t imagine it or you’ll be sorry

don’t whisper it, the wind has ears

 

I can hear

mia figlia

it was everywhere

I didn’t understand

how could I?  

the history was kept from me

not passed on as it should’ve been

in this new country there was no reason

to know anything except

it was safer not to know

what cousin so-and-so or the guy up the street did

“family business” people said

“family business” that went back centuries

how long before they had to

defend their Sicilia again

my blood is their blood

blood of the earth

blood of mia figlia

that won’t be silent

that won’t let me forget

 

originally published in Sweet Lemons, edited by Venera Fazio & Delia De Santis, Legas, 2004

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