This poem came out of the December 3, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from kelkyag. It also fills the "home" square in my 11-26-13 card for the Origfic Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by janetmiles. This poem belongs to the series Fiorenza the Wisewoman.
Fiorenza dusts the little shrine
with its fresco of two lares
flanking the family genius.
Here too are the tiny clay figures
that represent her ancestors.
Those of her mother and grandmother
are worn smooth from fond handling
where her skin has left behind a warm patina.
These things came with the cottage,
with the family, with the history
of Italy reaching back into mist and myth.
Fiorenza has, too,
a rosary of fine beads
made from rose-petal paste
and a cross of silver filigree.
She does not mind asking God
to grant forgiveness
or watch over the gryphons
but when there is a mouse in the pantry
it's the little household gods
whom Fiorenza beseeches to shoo it outside.
* * *
Lares are guardian gods from Italian culture. They encompass a range of ancestral and local spirits, traditionally given space in each home. A lar familiaris protects a house and family.
A genius is an individual spark of divine nature present in a person, family, place, etc. The paterfamilias overlaps with the genius of a family.