Maria Fama

Piducchiusu, Piducchiusu

When someone insists on a detail

to the point of exasperating others

when someone won’t back down

even when at risk

it is said that person is piducchiusu, piducchiusu

Cousin Minnie Fareri once told me why:

A long time ago in Sicily

an old lady insulted a magistrate’s dignity

by telling him to his face that

he was lice-infested

piducchiusu, piducchiusu she said

The magistrate threatened her

she would not back down

insisting he was piducchiusu, piducchiusu

lice-infested, lice-infested

even when the magistrate ordered her

lowered into a well and

she could no longer see her torturers

she threw her arms above her head

making the sign for lice

thumb and pointer fingers touching and pulling away

We don’t know the old woman’s name

Was she foolish or brave?  Or both?

The townspeople still keep her memory alive

with her last words

piducchiusu, piducchiusu.

Maria Fama lives and works in Philadelphia. She is the author of four books of poetry. Her most recent book, Looking for Cover, was published by Bordighera Press.