Household Gods

Where do you find them?

Behind the stove
Around the door frame
Under small stones placed in the pots of plants
In closets
In lamplight
In morning and evening
Behind the dishes
Among the dry goods

Most places.
Not all places.

How do you honor them?

Honestly. Happily.
Sorrowfully, when you must.
Ajax scrubbing powder
A nice salad, with tomatoes and a little hard cheese
Old bones, cleaned by wind and weather
Tangling bodies

What can they do for you?

Nothing, at any rate, that you can’t do for yourself.

But if you’ve bothered to

(To what?
To protect yourself. Those around you.
Eat and drink. Hang tiny lanterns. Wiggle your toes in bed
in the mornings. And
just soak it all in like moss soaks water or sunflowers sun)

then probably they slipped in without your even asking them.

They sit around your door frames. In corners. Between pots.
Their favorite place is the slanty drawer where you store candles and oddments
(Unless you don’t have a slanty drawer. Go looking, then.
The spot won’t be that hard to find.)
If you’ve bothered, then
You might as well take a second and greet them.

Shrine. Not-a-shrine. Temple. Not-a-temple.
Home. Not-a-house.
Gods. Not alone.

One comment

  1. This is really good 🙂 I really like the description of the household gods’ places (I often think of them as hiding places, but really, they don’t have to be hiding). The bit that begins with “Honestly. Happily.” is also really nice, and on further reading, sounds like a recipe, which is great, because it reinforces the household and hearth imagery so abundant in this poem.

    I am interested in how one greets the gods. What one calls them. It’s an unanswered question, but unanswered questions are not bad in a poem like this.

    The ending is particularly good. “Gods. Not Alone.” is just right, because, I think, that’s what gods want most of all – they want to not be alone. The thunder and lighting and blood sacrifice are all sort of later stages, maybe removed from the core of divinity. But I leave the theological argument for another time, and end with – thank you for such a nice poem. Always a pleasure to read 🙂

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