Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poem: Daughters of Cecilia: Doria Manfredi

Daughters of Cecilia

Doria Manfredi

Continue to work at your picture till nightfall, and you must promise that no pious lady, no fair or dusky beauty, shall be admitted here on any pretext!
    — Tosca

Summers in Torre del Lago, you wait to do your ironing in the cool of night. This is also when the Maestro works, his cowboy opera ringing through the villa.

At break time, you find him in the garden, puffing on a cigar, and share a brief talk. The Maestro is elegant, soft-spoken. It could be that you look on him as a father (how you long for a father).

Elvira Puccini hears the voices beneath her window. Doria stays late to be near my husband. She meets him in the garden for lovemaking. She fires you, spends the autumn denouncing you as a slut. What's worse, everyone believes her.

The Maestro sends a note, lamenting his wife's behavior, but seems incapable of stopping her. She finds you at Christmas Day mass, and threatens to kill you.

Haunted and sick, you purchase a bottle of mercuric chloride, a corrosive disinfectant, and swallow three tablets. The stomach cramps begin immediately, followed by five days of riveting pain.

In your note, you ask for revenge on Elvira, and clemency for Puccini, who has done nothing.

The gossips conclude that Doria has died of a botched abortion. The authorities order an autopsy, to be conducted in the presence of witnesses. The autopsy reveals that Doria was a virgin.

First published in 
Photo by MJV

No comments: