Doctor di Peste-Plague Doctor

Reflect the plague-Reflect the fear-Reflect the death
I have not succumbed.  My reasoning comes in bits and pieces.
I was born on Burano.  My entire island was condemned for the Plague- I will never forget approaching the boat as my grandmother handed me a package through the means of a long stick.  “Burn the outer package.  The rest has not been touched”, she cried, and sank back into the burning island along with the rest of my family and hoards of victims.
Rowing to Murano I thought of family I had just left in the billowing inferno.  I was so sad.  I was angry.  I felt helpless.  I met an American glass artist Teal Rowe.  Her Italian was broken and I think she had trouble understanding me through my terror yet she kept insisting it was because of the Burano dialect.  She was working on making beads “mille fiore” (millions of flowers), she had bright colors, she listened to my sadness understanding my grief.  I used the fire of her torch to burn the wrapping of the package my grandmother had given me.  Inside a metal box was the lace my grandmother had created with her own hands.  Not touched by the plague.  Touched by grandmother.  Each thread had been spun, each knot wrapped by the tips of her smooth delicate fingers.  I was delighted to have these strips of lace, these memories of my roots in Burano.  The dark reflections of what affect this disease had on my family became brighter.  Through the time and colors I realized I wanted to go to Venice.  Upon departure Teal gave me a silk bag, “Open this later”, and walked away.  I could not wait.  I stopped rowing long enough to untie the satin cord and peek into the beautiful mille fiore beads that had absorbed all of the horrendous visions of my experiences.  She had given me these bright reflections.
I was a stranger to this huge city of Venice.  I decided to focus on one thing.  I studied, I dug deep into the history of the plague, into darkness, into the terror of societies, animals, families, and individuals.  I became a doctor.  Doctor di Peste.  I reflect the plague.  I reflect the fear.  I reflect death.
I am a reflection of brightness.
2 replies
  1. Teal Rowe
    Teal Rowe says:

    I wrote this to accompany a piece I created out of a mask for Theater 150 in Ojai, CA.
    The mask shaped as a bird face, Is what the doctors in Venice, Italy wore at the time of the plague….I embellished it and covered with beads of Mille Fiore….I am also obsessed with the plague, as I was raised on my grandmother’s (Daisy Heting Hassall) stories of a childhood in Java. The plague being the subject of one of those stories.


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