To the Penates

For Virginia.

O Penates who hover
round the oven and sink,
fridge and dish strainer,
cupboard and wine rack,
dinner table and television set,
ancestor altar and plentiful shrines
of our family’s many Gods;
all of the important parts of the home
fall under your domain, O Penates,
and your protection.
When you are pleased there is warmth
and good will in all of our exchanges,
what has been lost is found,
luck and wealth vy to see
who can get through the door first,
sleep is filled with pleasant and relaxing dreams,
and sickness, despair and ill-fortune are barred from entering.
But, Penates, should you ever be displeased
with a negligent and impious household
I suspect it will go otherwise for them.
O Penates, may I never find out,
and always bring tasty foods, choice libations
and fragrant herbs to burn on your common altar,
grateful for the innumerable ways you Penates
have helped my loved ones, O kindlers of the flame,
custodians of tradition, and enduring heart of our family.


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