Fleeing through
The countryside,
Newborn baby
In your arms,
Hiding from
Your
Enemies
Among
The stream
Of refugees
As war burns
Across
The land.

His cries
Grow weaker,
Your feet bleed;
An old woman
Shares her food
As you three
Take refuge
In a temple
Where
Monks lay
Scattered-
Cut down
By the sword.

Cooing,
She takes
Your son
From you;
He whimpers,
Your breasts
Are dry-
She clucks,
Soothing,
Beaming
From a
Wrinkled face.

Helpless,
You sit beside
The toppled
Buddha,
Shared
Rice ball
In one hand,
"There, there
Little one,
Obaachan, granny,
Has you…"
She sniffs,
"Is ums dirty?"
You stare,
Hypnotized,
As she
Unwraps him…

His
Strange
White hair…

His amber
Eyes…

Pearly talons…

Obaachan shrieks,
"Yōkai, demon!!!"
Dropping him
Heavily
To the
Dirty floor.

He screams,
You snatch
Him up-
She hobbles out
Into the snow,
Screeching
"Yōkai!!! Yōkai!!!"

You clutch
Your baby
To your
Empty breasts,
Rocking him
As your nurse
Once did you,
He won't
Stop crying-
You want to
Scream-
Only a whimper
Comes out.

Hoofbeats,
The rattle of
Armor…
Obaachan's
Cries
Are cut off-

"No!"

The sagging
Door crashes
To one side
Even as you
Try to hide.

"No!"

A vassal
Drags you
And your
Wailing baby
Out into
The snow-

"No!"

Obaachan
Lies trampled
Underfoot;
Their commander
Stares down
From his
Horse at you;
Snow
Settling on
His helmet.

You scream,
"Do as you
Will-
Just don't
Hurt my baby!"

He dismounts.

You try
To run.

They hold
You fast…

"Lady Izayoi-
You live???"

Numb,
You let your
Uncle's vassals
Wrap you
And your son
In blankets-
They haven't
Seen him yet;
To them
He's just a
Whimpering
Bundle…


(How long
Will this new
Refuge last?)