The Crone and The Adulteress

Beaten down, nearly naked,
eyes blurred
the whites stained pinkish
from far too many tears
mouth parched from wailing
cries no one would ever hear
she arrived and knocked at the crone’s door

the little lady stood
short, wiry, strong
aged yet
masked in
youthful mischief
Her braided hair gray
up in its kerchief
she took in the sorry sight
and noted soon what was wrong

she sighed
a quick “tut tut” at the girl’s chest
and the elder of the two
concern on her face
wasted no time
set about to making a place
for the woman
with the emblazened A upon her breast.

Just happy for some kindness
the younger didn’t speak
The elder took her things
set them aside
Poked at the hearth to get
the fire going inside
Prepared her a plate of food
and insisted “Eat.”

She nibbled a bit
no hunger for the food
As the crone applied salve
by the light of the moon
to the still bleeding lashes
and seared-in-skin wound
“Ah now, I promise.
You’ll soon be back to good.

I know it’s hard
minding the young alone
while the man is off
earning the keep
leaving the missus
many nights to sleep
just herself,
in an empty home.

I’ve been there,
Where you are now.
We are expected to be content
nary a complaint
Keep the fire burning
food on the plate
Like a bought at auction
complacent cow.

It’s not easy, though is it?
A woman needing more
Than a man’s roof and boots at the bed
A feathered pillow to rest your head
So now,
here you are. The Whore.”

The younger gasped at the word.
How it stung.
More than the cuts
More than the coming scars
She missed her children
They were now kept so far
Would they notice?
They were still yet so young.

But before her the crone
gently came to kneel
She unbuttoned her blouse
scarred but now faint
Her own A from long ago
“Yes, I too, had taint.
And soon yours will fade as well.
Now, please. Eat your meal.”

The punishment she had endured
none was worse than her own.
But the days passed
though they felt like weeks
Wounds began to heal
the color came back to her cheeks
All this
while under the watchful eye of the crone.

The crone never varied.
Each day the same as the last.
Reminding the younger
that no one was pure
while she wasn’t innocent
Neither were those before
Things were difficult
But all would soon pass.

Together they lived,
quietly though rumors swirled –
(The crone was a witch
And she had a new student!
Well, she is getting old,
she’s just being prudent.)
But no one knew the truth
The honesty of their world.

They were both women who had
no one but each other
Everyone holding themselves
to be judge and jury
They kept themselves from
the indignant fury
They knew their own hearts
and couldn’t be bothered

Soon enough, the younger’s scar
began to fade
Still there, a reminder of her failings.
Her faults.
But she carried on her new life
in that crone’s house.
For when it was her turn to take care
of another woman gone astray.

And they stayed together, the two of them. Breasts scarred with A’s.