Placed for Protection – Diane Funston

Placed for Protection
Diane Funston

Glass cobalt evil eyes from Turkey
hang in a window in each room.
A hammered tin Hamsa
hangs outside every entrance.

These baubles I placed for protection
from all harm
seen and unseen.

After passing centuries of abuse,
words and other wounds
I forgave Baba Yaga,
whom I believed
could no longer eat children.

Her advanced age, gnarled weak bones
grew frail in unforgiving winters,
she grew lonely with failing powers.

I moved her out of her high-rise hut
into our warm home
far away from black ice.

I tended my garden
as she grew accustomed
to nourishing meals and healing sun

I began to wonder if there was a little love
or merely a place to eat and rest.

Her voice regained familiar strength and timbre
I heard her chanting spells behind her door.

Her responses to questions growled back
while her elderly hands grew talons
ready to pierce and slice
even the most innocent requests.
I found myself denying recent scratches
rinsing drops of blood down the drain.

In between battles from last century’s war
I prayed daily to my god of poetry.

I shielded torn flesh from my loved ones
I was cursed with guilt
for welcoming her in.

When the plague locked us all inside for months,
it was easy to cover my scars and wounds.
‘After all,” Baba Yaga hissed one day,
after she again drew blood with her tongue,
“Mother knows you still need mending.”