It’s a rare and welcomed thing when you read or see or experience something that inspires you to act. We are inundated with images, stories and views every day but it’s not often that many of us are moved to act upon any given source.

emiliosmLast year the Fernie Museum did an exhibit based on the life and times of Emilio Picariello. Many people saw the exhibit and participated in the programs put on in conjunction with the show. But one long time Fernie resident, who had a bit more of a connection to the Picariello story, was inspired to write a poem.

Mary Menduk, who many know in the community as an ardent supporter of arts and culture in Fernie, actually had in her possession for years a mandolin belonging to Emilio Picariello. Being a mandolin player it came to her to play through the Picariello family and she has since returned it to the descendants of Picariello.

She was inspired by the memories and the story presented in the museum’s exhibit and here is her poem – Picariello’s Mandolin.

Picariello’s Mandolin

Picariello’s mandolin waits

on the dark shelf

of the closet

a bellied instrument

bands of dark wood

cradle and send the melody

I take it down and play

rough dried by time

spaces in the glue

new strings live on an old body

holding the memory of his fingers

playing the music

of gondoliers

when with family

he removed his armour

and took pleasure in little things

he played the mandolin

innocent time

no smell of smuggling

liquor or musty cars

hands that sealed a secret contract

opened hearts to traditional songs

my fingers slide along the neck

I pluck and strum the strings

remembering

almost forgiving him

could he be a villain?

Mary Menduk

July 2015

© 2016 Fernie & District Historical Society
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