*from One With Willows copyright2019 by Joan Myles*
They used to cluster near the city well
to prey upon wayfarers
too weary to mind their tongues,
their satchels, their children.
They huddled in shadows, among the feet
of pilgrims and saints
to taunt the rabbi’s New Year sermon,
and his students’ rebuttals.
But demons never followed us home like this,
never hid among our winter coats
or under the floorboards,
or even in the attic.
They never climbed up our backs,
or sprinted between our busy steps,
never waited beside the bookshelf
or stood warming their wretched claws at the stove.
Only during these horrid, dark hours
have I heard them hissing
between my gritted teeth,
amid my ragged breath,
felt them clutching at my hair,
untying my shoelaces,
glaring at me from behind your eyes.
The well has run dry
despite the deluge outside.
And without well water,
there are few pilgrims,
and wisdom’s window
is locked tight against the wind.