When families stewed only scrag
And the pig wouldn't live to Easter,
They feared all shadows from oak trees
Too far from the market or manor,
A splinter in the reliquary,
And doctors who knew how to bleed.
"Men may become apothecaries
But women with unguents are witches,"
Alfreda said under her breath
Who poulticed another sick brother
After she supped on day old bread
With butter and anything left.
"I might as well become a nun
Since Paul's not back from war with France,"
She said to her mother and father,
Both of whom said nothing at all,
Feeding the twin soon to be christened
And family cow in for the winter.