Baba Yaga’s Child. A poem by Kate Rogers

KateRogers

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 GuardianVoice & Verse; Kyoto Journal and the Montreal International Poetry Prize Anthology, among other publications. You can read her work at: https://katerogers.ca/

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie is now completing her first novel where, for a family with a Seventh-day Adventist father and a Mennonite mother, the End Times are just around the corner. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

2 thoughts on “Baba Yaga’s Child. A poem by Kate Rogers

  1. 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!

    Like

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