Baba Yaga's Child
I Baba Yaga gathers tiny corpses of broken birds beneath her windows. She hangs eaves and pine limbs with home-made bone wind chimes, strings bush lout bone-anchors, threads the basket rib cage of a pied biter, weaves in cuckoo wings for lift. At the top of the strand, hummingbird beaks, needles to stitch the breeze with nectar. Outside, sweet mist meets my cheeks. On quiet days tiny clavicles, mandibles, femurs clatter. My cup is a crow skull. Baba Yaga’s potion leaks from eye sockets when I tip it to my lips. I run, caw, trill, warble, wail looney. Northern diver throws his voice across the lake, like a ventriloquist. Loon teases, echoes till the wolf and I reply. Baba Yaga loves the bird egg sky, faded denim sky, spilled milk sky. Stares at it for hours. No drapes. II When I am tall, a lean young sugar maple, crown as red, sap rising—the man comes to cut logs. He gapes at my bare back through the window. Fingers of longing tug at my curtain of hair. I pull on my green sweater. His chainsaw stalls. Baba Yaga invites him in for a dram of syrup-whiskey liqueur—Sortilege. Maple burns hottest, smoulders longest in the stove, he says. She smiles, flutters her lashes, laughs with him. I lock my door, burrow under my quilt. After dark, his snow machine snarls retreat. III Baba Yaga’s shack—hen on its haunches. Frost powders the dirt paths white. She scatters seed for small flyers. Sun slides into its burrow under her house. The lake grows silver skin overnight. Graveyard screecher swoops, talons flexed. The man returns to wait for my light. Baba Yaga, my Mama, wields her birch wand, whips up wind to cover my tracks. IV When I call Baba Yaga doesn’t know me: Karin? Erin? Mindy? Katie? She tries out names until one fits, rocking the fur sack that was her cat in the chair that sways by the woodstove. At Solstice, the sun peers from its den. I cross the frozen lake on snow shoes; they spread my weight. In my pack, tins of alphabet soup. I open two to heat in the dented pot. Baba Yaga smooths open the Scrabble Board’s broken spine on her cherry table, picks seven tiles from her black bag of charms. On her first turn she uses most of her letters spelling “LONELY”.
Kate Rogers (she/her) has poetry forthcoming in the anthologies: The Beauty of Being Elsewhere and Looking Back at Hong Kong (Chinese University of Hong Kong). Her poetry recently appeared in the Quarantine Review, the Sad Girl Review: Muse, Heroine and Fangirl and the Trinity Review. Kate’s creative non-fiction essay “The Accident” is out in the spring 2021 issue of The Windsor Review. Kate’s work has also appeared in Poetry Pause (League of Canadian Poets); Understorey Magazine; World Literature Today; Cha: An Asian Literary Journal; The Guardian; Voice & Verse; Kyoto Journal and the Montreal International Poetry Prize Anthology, among other publications. You can read her work at: https://katerogers.ca/
2 thoughts on “Baba Yaga’s Child. A poem by Kate Rogers”
a gorgeous poem Kate – it’s so moving with the fragility of the bones that are woven through the different times in your life and that of your mother – fragile bones but that hold a lot – and how time moves within intense desire and forgetting – and every image is so clear and part of that last word that seeps through the poem as if the poem is calling out to the wilderness – gives me chills – no wonder she calls you a witch! – thank you!