The Eyed Box

by Gioia Marchegiani

On the first Friday of every month she came.
She looked like an old doll. Frizzy hair tied like an abandoned nest. Pink skin under her dark dress. An eye half-closed as she threaded the needle. A small nose.
When we woke up, there we found her, under the walnut. Sitting down. She used to stitch while singing a few notes in a low voice, always the same notes.
On the first Friday of every month we waited for her.
We queued in front of her altar of laces, dolls and clowns placed on two wheels and a tripod. Her suitcase full of small boxes was open toward the sky. It seemed like a going out of warbles and ticking and dull sounds.
- Good morning, my children! - she welcomed us.
- Hello Miss Rose, what’s the matter? Is your doll a little tattered?
- Good morning Paoletto, how is your clown? What shall I do for him now?
- Hey Lucia, let me see… Stop crying, I’ll take care of it!
With our puppets in our hands we marched in procession. For a brooch, a stitch or a nice button. She wasn’t a witch, but she had a solution for everybody.
With her broad mother-of-pearl smile. Her agile hands. She thought, she searched for and opened. She opened the boxes that had once contained candies.
How much we loved that moment, that gesture, that endless surprise.
I adored one of them in particular. “The one that looks at you” she called it.
The one containing eyes.
Blue, brown, black or violet. Round, elliptical or crescent, they were open inside there, but closed in the tin darkness.
- Giacomo, bring me your teddy bear with a missing eye. Choose one! - The small and slow finger moved and carefully caught. It didn’t matter whether it was a different eye. Her long needle sewed it all the same. Two stitches and a knot.
She wasn’t a witch but with her pointed needle she could heal without hurting.
We knew it, that’s why we waited for her.

On the first Friday of every month.