Io mi chiamo Gioconda

By Anna Maria Panunto

It whispered to me ever so tentatively in my awakened dreams. Almost like a sufi mystic… I saw the name in colorful fragments like tiny pieces of heaven. It told me that a name… is not just letters to a word. Every letter to a given name breathes life to it. The name is intimately connected to the soul. It even has a sound that reverberates to the universe and it can cut through all earthly noise.

Mama knew my name; but, she kept it a secret. Weeks before I was born, she would gently massage her growing belly almost every night and only when no one was watching, would she sing a beautiful lullaby named, Giaconda. It would lull both our souls to sleep. “Gioconda, Gioconda… my little treasure, twinkle with the stars … My Gioconda, mama loves you…twinkle, twinkle with the stars”. Please forgive me my precious angel, but I cannot name you Giaconda. Your name will create an ancestral war like knives to baby skin. It will set my world on fire; so, I must relinquish your name. I will bury it inside my heart like a holy funeral. I promise to visit you one day, Gioconda… But tonight is the last night, I call you this secret name. Indeed the name almost vanished… how sad. The funeral took place on my baptism as I was named after two mother saints. There was a mystical fog that day only because the clouds were mourning the loss of a sacred name.

Until… alas… 53 years later! The name summoned me like in a ghostlore story. It was translucent yet lifelike. It even had a voice. Gioconda… dove stai? The voice was exhausted but not defeated. It was soft but not feeble. Its frequency was powerful but not dark. It had been floating in between worlds genderless and it finally came to claim as its eternal consciousness was longing to finally inhabit its rightful home.

Now, enlightened and awakened both the voice and I begin the mission – the claiming of the name with the almighty sword of mercy ( Curtana) upon us. First, the voice must visit its womb. It entered mama’s sleep yet she mercilessly ignored it. The voice witnessed how mama’s womb is quickly turning to dust and it cried like a newborn. The nostalgic birth. Then, it made its plea to the archangels.

Mama kept denying its existence and frantically called upon my given name … Anna-Maria, Anna-Maria, Anna-Maria vienne qui… per l’amore de Dio! She fervently prays to the given name and asks the two saints for a miracle. Her prayer is not heard for the angels have muted her voice.

Gioconda… manifests into a flower and begins to bloom like a bright purple morning glory flower. This holy vision finally brings mama to her knees. And, for the first time in her earthy existence, mama surrenders and floods the ground beneath her with bloodshed tears. Giaconda whispers in between mama’s tears, “ Why have you forsaken me, mama?” I have always been here kissing you with every brushstroke. My colors fuse and blend everywhere I travel… I was sending you kisses in your sleep every night… but you chose not to see me. Again I must ask, “Why have you forsaken me, mama? Mama was deadly silent. For 53 years, I have been the wind to the birds and the sword to the women. You were bestowed this gift of naming, mama. My name means… And, mama still with tears in her eyes finishes the sentence… your name means the joyful one.

Gioconda, perdonami….

Mama, I am beyond the 16th century oil painting. “ Yes, you are”. Mama, I am beyond the 4 act opera by Ponchielli. “ Yes, you are”. And I even more exquisite than the wine. “ Yes, you are”.

Gioconda, “ No vineyard, opera house, or painter shall replace the animus of your anima. You have come this sacred night, to claim your name…


Anna Maria Panunto was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. She completed her university studies at McGill University. She is of Italian origin and speaks three languages: English, French, and Italian. Anna is a Course Lecturer at McGill University and an Adult Education teacher at the EMSB. She has been writing poetry since the age of 13. Over the decades, she has published poetry, short-stories, articles, and other stuff. She is proud of her Italian origin and so, her bi-cultural feminist identity plays a pivotal role in all of her writings.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Latest News

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll to Top