Feeding the Small Gods
by Theodora Goss
Leave bread soaked in milk for the piskies,
those pesky little men in red hats,
little women in green skirts,
who pinch the cat and sign a treaty
with the mouse king, who never
help you clean, who leave the muddy prints
of miniature shoes on your kitchen floor.
But if you didn’t, wouldn’t it be worse?
Keep slices of cake and wine for the pale lady
who comes to your front door,
sighing and reading poetry
in Irish. Set out a dish of liver dumplings
for the banshee, dog treats
for the kelpie, that sopping mess of a water horse,
even when he leaves trailing
green weeds draped over the parlor sofa,
or she uses you as an unpaid therapist.
It is important to feed the small gods,
the gods of ponds and caves and the darkness
under the roots of oak trees. Because if the banshee
went away, who would memorialize the dead?
Who except the fair or unfair folk
would make the blackthorn bloom in spring?
Who would steal socks?
Leave a pot of tea and biscuits for the small gods —
the toadstool people, the ones
with butterfly wings, the ones that look
like worms, the impkins and pookas,
the ones that dance in rings or live under hollow hills,
or in your attic.
The beautiful ones, the annoying ones
that make the world magical. You would miss them
if they were gone.
(The image is an illustration by Arthur Rackham.)
Wonderful as always. Incredible. Did you just see The Banshees of Inisherin?
Your works are always a delight to read. Thank you.
I really enjoyed this poem. I made me smile. It made me think. Thank you.
Complex and symbolic! Enjoyable!