Invitation to Mom. A poem by Mary Pecaut

Mary Pecaut-photo bw

Invitation to Mom

(After Mirna Stone)

If I can bring you back again
it would be on a day like this when the sky
opens wide to the water         
pelicans perch on fishing boats
and lego-like container ships navigate 
the Panama Canal

And I would bring you to my rooftop
and tell you THIS 
is what I love, this view, this horizon
you've never seen
this papaye sunrise
this breeze that nudges me
corrals the clouds

And I would offer you a hammock swing
woven by Emberra
here     I would say     is my life
and this is the hymn I sing 

Here in this troposphere
on this bridge between calm and stormy seas
this bridge between continents
where once saber-tooth tigers and now monarchs migrate
the sky holds every emotion ever felt
holds the sun when she is overwhelmed
keeps the moon like a promise

And if you told me
you could, you should, I would
laugh and take your hand, invite you to dance
I would take the lead

Here I give you latitude
the grace of an ever-changing horizon
birds who know their way
and each new day,  gratitude

Mary Pecaut is a multi-genre writer, living in Panama City, Panama. Her poems, short stories and creative non-fiction have been published internationally in VietNam, Switzerland and the USA. Winner of the Swiss GWG Literary Prize for Poetry (2015), 2nd place GWG Prize – Memoir (2016) short-listed for the FISH Poetry Prize ( 2013) and FISH Memoir Prize (2017), Mary facilitates workshops on Writing for Wellness and Well-being as well as Compassionate Integrity Training workshops for the United Nations, NGOs, and individuals. Mary believes that literature and poetry in particular, can change the world. To that end, she initiated the Poemanate Project in Casco Viejo at the beginning of the Global Covid Pandemic.

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in.ception. A poem by Josephine LoRe

in.ception 

     Scientists have captured the flash of light
that sparks when a sperm meets an egg

I knew    

    I walked from the bed to the bathroom and knew 

                                       a life inside my life a spark

                                             within my spark a flash 

                         infinitesimal then the size of flaxseed 

                     waving blue in summer breeze hazelnut 

                                         in shatterproof shell apricot 

           fuzz-covered flesh yielding to touch grapefruit 

                                         sunshine bursting into scent 

and within me bubbles gently bursting weeks 

  before movement weeks before the first real 

       kick as unforgettable as the first real kiss 

all this 

                  before anyone else knew 

                                                                            I knew 

                                                                  as intimately 

                                                as you knew the beating 

                                             of my heart keeping silent 

                                       time until you would be ready 

                                                          to come forth into  

                                                                               light    

a pearl in this diamond world … Josephine LoRe has published two collections:  ‘Unity’ and the Calgary Herald Bestseller ‘The Cowichan Series’.  Her words have been read on stage, put to music, danced to, and integrated into visual art.  They appear in anthologies and literary journals across nine countries. https://www.josephinelorepoet.com/

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A Life of Envy. A poem by Lynn Tait

LynnTaitsmallcrop

A Life of Envy           
in memory of Stephen 1983-2012

I would rather 
someone to call sister, brother, father
rather than my family tree rootless, without leaves;
a life-path with fewer side streets,
instead of twists and turns— 
crossroads leading to dead ends.
I would rather 
hear the hum and drawl—calling for Mom again, 
talks with my son, now, instead of memories, 
walks with his children—the same places
I taught their dad 
the art of the snake hunt, 
the bugle-sound grass makes 
blown between cupped hands and thumbs,
the craft of stone skipping,
the search for the perfect pee tree,
answers to the ritual asking of why, 
the cadence of the word grandma.


Lynn Tait is an award-winning poet/photographer residing in Sarnia Ontario Canada. Her poems have appeared in Windsor Review, RE:al, Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, Feathertales, The Tower Society, Contemporary Verse II, Vallum, Freefall Literary Magazine, Literary Review of Canada and in over 100 Canadian and American anthologies, She’s had a chapbook Breaking Away, published, co-authored the poetry book EnCompass I, and  is working on two full length poetry manuscripts. She is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and The Ontario Poetry Society. 

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A Dedication To My (M)other. A poem excerpt by Mbizo Chirasha

a1mbizo-chirasha-diasporian

The lines below are excerpted (by Anne Sorbie MA) from the manuscript, Poetry DNA / Midnight Monologues, and specifically from the poem, “DREAMS OF MY ANCESTOR: A dedication to my mother,” by Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirashsa.

 

A Dedication To My (M)other

As I dangled on your struggle – hardened back

I carved poetry from your sweet lullabies

and grieving hymns

became a griot before teething

You remain my Goddess of all time

On the day of my birthing

the moon was torn into two halves

wind raged           a storm ensued

thunder clapped the red earth

lightning bolts cracked in synchrony with gunshots

The rat-a-tat of pelting raindrops

witnessed your labour

Father named me, Gandanga reChimurenga

I grew perfectly

like a sweet potato enjoying the caress of red earth

Years stewed into decades and

decades fried themselves into another century

I dreamt of you Mother, wearing a sparkling silver wedding dress

walking side by side with the Great King of all time

A wedding song boomed feverishly

I can’t remember the singer, but I remember the beautiful poetics

Vul’indlela wemamgobhozi
He unyana wam
Helele uyashada namhlanje

 

Recently the devil birthed a cruel goblin of a son called Corona

Every door of every home was locked

Every gate of every country was locked

Dear Goddess

I was not there to cast the last lump of shovel dust

to say, Goodbye spirit Queen

My heart caves bleed with grief

Every day I see you floating in the mist of dawn

and later

in the cloaked night of harmony

Fambai Zvakanaka Shoko

Makwiramiti, mahomu-homu
Vanopona nekuba
Vanamushamba negore
Makumbo mana muswe weshanu
Hekani Soko yangu yiyi
Vakaera mutupo umwe nashe
Vana Va Pfumojena
Vakabva Guruuswa
Soko Mbire ya Svosve
Vanobva Hwedza
Vapfuri vemhangura
Veku Matonjeni vanaisi vemvura
Zvaitwa matarira vari mumabwe
Mhanimani tonodya, svosve tichobovera
Maita zvenyu rudzi rukuru
Matangakugara
Vakawana ushe neuchenjeri
Vakufamba hujeukidza kwandabva
Pagerwe rinongova jemedzanwa
Kugara hukwenya-kwenya
Vari mawere maramba kurimba
Vamazvikongonyadza kufamba hukanya
Zvibwezvitedza, zvinotedzera vari kure
Asi vari padyo vachitamba nazvo
Zvaitwa mukanya rudzi rusina chiramwa
Maita vari Makoromokwa, Mugarandaguta
Aiwa zvaonekwa Vhudzijena

You remain

the Goddess of all time.

 

Mbizo CHIRASHA, the Author of a Letter to the President and Pilgrims of Zame, also co-Authored Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zambezi, Street Voices Poetry Collection (Germany Africa Poetry Anthology), Corpses of Unity Anthology.  Associate Editor at  Diasporia(n) online. Chief Editor at Time of the Poet Republic. Founding Editor at WomaWords Literary Press. Publisher at Brave Voices Poetry journal.  Curator at Africa Writers Caravan. UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist at University of Glasgow. 2020 Poet in Residence Fictional Café. 2019 African Fellow, IHRAF.ORG. Project Curator and Co-Editor of the Second Name of Earth is Peace (Poetry Voices Against WAR Anthology). Contributing Essayist to Monk Arts and Soul Magazine.  Poetry and writings appear in  FemAsia Magazine, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Ink Sweat and Tears Journal , One Ghana One Magazine, Ofi Press, World Poetry Almanac, Demer Press , Atunis Galaxy poetry online, IHRAF Publishes, The Poet a Day, Bezine.Com, Sentinel UK, Oxford School of Poetry Pamphlet, Africa Crayons, PulpitMagazine, Poetry Pacific, Zimbolicious, Best New Poets, Poetry Bulawayo, Gramnet webjournal, Diogen Plus, Poeisis.si, Festival de Poesia Medellin and elsewhere.

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When Other Orders a Mother’s Heart. A poem and a hybrid by Nancy Ndeke

ndeke800

WHEN OTHER ORDERS A MOTHER’S  HEART

The soil,dirty,darkly brown, often damp,
The liquid gold of wombic nurture and stature,
The goddess with nimble fingers and tender breasts,
Teaching lullabies in a preachers trembling tunes upon a fevered wake,
A father’s gift for a name after his father’s and further down the lineage, 
The place of worship in needs met and wants explained, 
What’s motherhood but divine soft shine of pain in beautiful gain,
That distance heart of a total stranger on bedded knees for another stranger in need,
Mother! Smoothing ruffled hair and crumpled Jersey, 
Mother! The spirit that hides a fugitive against a pursuing goon,
Mother! The jailer stepping in the gap of injustice and offering survival counsel, 
The spirit of motherhood is more than a mere gender,
It’s the universe holding up candles and star drops of merciful intervention,
To be a mother is bigger than blind titles and comely positions up success ladders,
It’s to be that man, that woman who feels the aching needs of another 
Motherhood is a faith in humanity and a religion of peace,
Motherhood is a gift to life and its unpredictable ladders that sway our steps,
Motherhood is an institution and constitution of light of hearts glowing with wellness for others.  
It’s the cycles of the moon in faith of conception and lovers daring spirits,
The birth of love, the forbearance of sorrow and the glory of service. 
Motherhood is the balm that heals what ails the Gail’s of life visit. 
To be visited by the spirit of motherhood is to attain wings while in flesh,
To fly life into betterment of the hidden Eden that once was home. 
 

BROTHERS WITHOUT BORDERS

Told in staccato silence of whispers along divine vines of prayers on tightly held lips, is the tale of words divorced from the throat of a man whose crime is truth in its nubile nudity oozing mantras of sagely dare to wrong. Night came visiting dressed in white robes and extended palms offering interrogative texts for a chance to leave or live. Poverty sucked hard at the stove pipe where snippets of gasps escaped the priests of bloody baths to signal sentinels of earths intentions to prune unripe grapes before maturity for a crime of passionate speech against misspelling of goodwill into ‘goonwill ‘.

The green of the land mutated from the rich fart of cats pursuing the ratting  mouse, who bore the truth on its flimsy whiskers. Heaven rumbled with the growls of pregnancy across an expansive network of giants of fluid statements and punchy pens oozing protest and defying the lids suffocating outcomes of witnessing a crime in the process of happening. 

A son has lost his mother. His children have shed his name for their sake. Friends are receiving bounty in hard currency to point the hunter the direction of the prey deeply bent over in prayer. 

Character has characteristics just as floor dusters spews out dust from accumulated dalliance with sooty places. A fugitive is not born or baptised into the career of ‘vagabondry ‘. A fugitive is a product and a brand curved out of intolerance and the thriving thievery of masters of saintly parades.

As the night gives way to daylight, a child runs into anti hills of the savannah to seek solace from termites and the mercy of warm hearts yet unbought by the promise of guarantee riches of statements and statesmen who run tragic shows against those unwilling or unable to match to the beat of debauchery and debased drums.

The world is a word in creation and performance.  The world is full of void spaces to fill with songs of muted courage and resilience verbs describing escaped feet and daring hearts.

So in the ear of the year when connection is a finger tap away and prison guard is watching the monitor trail a target from the condominiums of state largesse typing a eulogy before the death of the favoured, writers in their temples of slate paper towns breath hope into the perforated lungs of a child marked for target practice by marksman long dead of conscience.  But fate is an uncharted territory more mystical than Atlantis and the majesty of the pyramid.  The child made its first cry after a difficulty birth of itself and now like an old dog with memories of revolutionary scars and dents on its teeth, just let out a new exhale to celebrate deferred death.

The child’s name is Truth son of Defiance from the clan of Penners.

Nancy Ndeke is a multi-genre writer. She writes poetry, hybrid essays, reviews, commentary and memoir. Ndeke  is widely published with four collection of her full writings Soliama Legacy, Lola- Logue , Musical Poesy  and May the Force be With you. She has recently  collaborated with a Scotland-based Writer  and Musical Artist,  Dr. Gameli Tordzro of Glasgow University on the Poetry Collection Mazungumzo ya Shairi, and  also  co-authored the poetry anthology , I was lost but now am found with USA Poet Renee Drummond  -Brown . She contributes her writings to the Atunis  Galaxy Poetry ( Belgium), TUJIPANGE AFRICA( Kenya, USA), Ramingo Porch, Africa Writers Caravan , WOMAWORD Literary Press, BeZine  for Arts and Humanities( USA), Andinkra Links 5,  Wild Fire Publication, Williwash Press, The poet by day webzine, Writers Escape at Poetry, Different Truths, ARCS PROSE POETRY. Nancy Ndeke  also works as a literary arts consultant, copyeditor and  Writers’ Clinics Moderator.

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Miscarriage. Mynah Messiah. 2 Poems by Rachel J. Fenton

Miscarriage

A German Shepherd has his head
and front paws in your hutch,
lifted off the lid
to climb in and almost had you.

I had woken from a dream; 
thought I’d heard someone
knocking the fence in.
Outside the bedroom window, 

the dog stares when I scream
‘Oh,’ as if I’ve discovered my baby
dead in my uterus. Gormless,
until I add, ‘Out, out, out,’

and run to the back door,
chase wolf away from rabbit 
skin. My bark
is worse than my bite.

I shout for its owners
to keep their dog under control
and carry you, close
to my chest, to the fence

to tell them what their dog 
has almost done. But they stare
blankly then the mother says,
‘He hardly ever gets out.’





Mynah Messiah
after the sculpture by Emily Valentine

In the woods that day it was sombre
As: graver than remembered 
years before; a dry October, 
wind making up for lack of rain.

There seemed fewer leaves on the ground,
so that each twig we trod sounded,
crack: the cocking of a gun. I recalled
walking the same track with my father,

each of us carrying coal 
black plastic sacks, reeling back in mock horror 
and admittedly part delight 
as he dragged up a rake load,
 
worms and other nasties, with his spade
hands and chucked them in the bin bags
before clutching the lot like a highwayman,
shooing Bess on ahead, 

hoisting our nipper on his shoulders
and nearly topping him on a low branch
of beech with moss moulded 
along one side. We should have reached
 
the quarry, the period
of time we'd been tramping, but had
yet to see the cut out slice of orange 
clay: the drop like citrus on taste buds

after sugar. You turned,
that's when I grabbed your arm,
pointed. Yis, it was the fearst 
robin you'd ivver seen and I let you 

 
admire it while I gave daggers to the lad
taking aim a few feet behind
it, air rifle framed by bare lime.
You talked all the way home

about how in New Zealand
you only see the mynah birds:
pists, nah, vermin, you said, you would
shoot the berluddy lot of 'em.

*

I cannot shout praises, or even speak 
my mind, my tongue is not complete; my own 
half father's, half mother's (theirs cleaved in form 
from others similarly), it is split 
in two, but I can mimic perfectly. In the morning 
I am nurture mother, tender succour to infant life, 
off peak sage advisor and child's advocate. 
By afternoon I manage (badly) 
mason entrepreneurs, part clown 
(to amuse, plus it helps with the juggling), part 
accountant (I'm told it never adds up, even 
if one can count), and part IT radicle, tapping 
into unseeded territories 
in the ether. In the evening, I wear 
comedy and tragedy (two faces 
optional, and here's where juggling's handy),
directions given from the rocking chair 
concealed in joviality. I sing 
them to sleep: lullabies, ballad of girl who stole 
riches from her parents, half sum 
from each, to buy herself a baby's life, a swim 
to her death. I sing wife, 
take my new husband for a sleeping pill 
until he pulls the cover over 
me and I am silent, once again, till dawn.

*

 
Acknowledgements lie
south west of a rock
shaped like a lion by a thousand years
		of storms and wild seas
and an artificial eye.

Your phone rings. Mynah
with a yellow eye mask 
and white arm bands, scavenger, turns
		 her head to look, burns
and I do not ask why

you do not answer.
Clouds make pied outcrops,
changing and transient as the point of who
	                      last used the shed key;
what pudding your mother likes.

And there is something 
else, a new message
and your shirt, the one I didn't buy you, printed 
		      	        roses, red, scattered,  
lying stained at my feet.

*

In the darkness the motions, however small,
like sounds, are exaggerated
so that a tired sigh, even a breath, 
takes on the auditory aura of the sea, 
so that doing nothing feels like doing something.

There are no screens in our room, no tv,
no visual means to play out others' lives. 
Only a black, now lightening to grey, expanse 
of window looking out on other windows 
looking somewhere into darker shade.

 
Rolling on my side, I feel the briefest touch, 
fingertip to fingertip, like a bird 
caught deep inside the pit of me, 
feel the pull of a hand contracting. 
Opening my eyes I am now able to see 

the small sooty outline of his face, peach stone for eye, rib 
cage unmoving. I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat.

There was a black bird caught inside the chimney,
when we had a chimney, and fire of course. 
It could be heard in there for days. Even in summertime 
it wouldn't turn, couldn't work out that escape 
came only by first going down.

And it was quiet one evening, until the flies. 
We lit a fire then, in June. Thirteen weeks it took to kill it.
We turn out the lights and it's still there; listening 
now I can hear it, trapped in the burnt shaft 
of malignant bricks, covered in soot, flying up.

*

A black face
appears in the mouth
of the hole

in the electrical box
at the top
of the telegraph pole

perhaps it isn't wired up right
shouldn't be there

but it's making a go of it 
all the same.

A nest 
with the best sea views 
on Beach Road.

Rachel J Fenton is an award-winning writer living in the South Island of New Zealand. Her fiction has won the University of Plymouth Short Fiction Prize, the Auckland University of Technology Creative Writing Prize, she came second in the Dundee International Book Prize, was longlisted for the Inaugural Michael Gifkins Unpublished Novel Prize, the Bristol Prize, and was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize. Her short stories have been anthologised in Stories of Hope Bushfire Relief Anthology (Aussie Speculative Fiction), Remembering Oluwale (Valley Press), Refugees Welcome (Co-Boox), Cooked Up, Food Fiction from Around the World (New Internationalist), and others. Also known as Rae Joyce, Rachel is Co-editor of Three Words, An Anthology of Aotearoa Women’s Comics (Beatnik).

http://snowlikethought.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/RaeJFenton,

https://www.facebook.com/rae.joyce.5

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Baltic Bread. A poem by Dolly Dennis

Dolly and her young mother, and her doll, waiting to come to Canada
BALTIC BREAD – (for my mama)

autumn.
unraked lawns,
yarns of lilac twigs garnish gardens, now ignored.
a new school year. i comb neglected leaves, 
meditate, salivate, remember black bread and sour cream—
after class, a run to the bakery.
such a hunger for a six year old. i start to nibble, 
nosh like Alice down the rabbit hole, 
reach home, the heel of the bread gone. 
a scolding. no super supper tonight,
no sauerkraut, no Baltic bread.
just sour cream on nothing.
			∞
your last words to me from your hospital bed,
i love you, love you, love you.
a profusion, a confusion of phone dates followed—
Dali, no Sunday. you were chomping down your 
smashed potatoes with a sauce of ketchup, 
so unlike your daily Baltic bread and cepilinai.*
no ma, it’s Saturday. a bewilderment of lost time.
			∞			
i love you love you, your alto voice
pierced the line from Montreal to Edmonton.
i joined in a duet of love songs,
a mother and a daughter, one last time—
i love you love you, truly i do.
			∞		
that’s why i called a day early. your son’s threat
to separate us needed intervention.
did you say it or did he invent the lie—
i never want to see you again. i leave you nothing.
what did i do? exhausted from a pandemic
game of minds that erupted without notice,
you jumped from your second-floor window.
got my attention and now what? 
			∞			
an occasion for your son to change his tale—
a mix up of meds left your mind busy, dizzy he said.
you had leaned against the unlocked window 
plunging into an abyss of dead shrubs,
short of being stabbed by the wrought iron fence.
which is the truth?

*cepilinai. Zepplin, (a Lithuanian dish)

Born in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany, Dolly Dennis’ ancestry is Lithuanian. She was raised in Montreal, Quebec, moving to Edmonton, Alberta in 1993. Her work has appeared on stage, in literary journals, newspapers, corporate newsletters, anthologies and the CBC. Her first play won two awards at the Quebec Drama Festival of One Act plays, and she’s also been shortlisted for the James H. Gray Award for non-fiction. In 2014, Guernica Editions published her first book, Loddy-Dah, and in May 2020 Toronto’s Dundurn Press released her second book, The Complex Arms. She is currently writing her childhood memoir, The Quiet Wound, which depicts her life as a displaced person (a DP), a child refugee and all that it entailed.

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My Mom’s Secret. A poem by Narayan Bhattarai

Narayan Bhattarai

My Mom’s Secret

My mom bears the chronicle of Nepali women 
in her rough hands hardened by time and 
in the wrinkles of her jittery countenance
She is a history never to be written
because nothing big happened in her life
When she had to get a toy to play with
she got a bridal veil and the in-law’s house 
where rules were made only for her.
There, she learned to listen and endure: 
Commands, slaps, humiliation, torture 
A good woman was a silent woman
A good woman begets lots of kids 
My mom was successful
 
My mom always nods her head in agreement 
because she has never disagreed in her life
She agreed to be bride when she was seven
She agreed all those nightmares of
her unwanted pregnancies
She agreed to be mother in her late teens
She agreed to be a legitimate slave to a house 
where a cat also waited for her service. 
Out of many things my illiterate mom learned 
was the meaning of the word battering
which meant “love” in her new house.
 
Blinded by that love long ago 
Now in her seventies,
she told me a secret that 
she wanted to beget only sons.

Narayan Bhattarai comes from Albany, California. He is a father of two happy kids. He is a lover of poems, songs and stories. At the age of thirty-two he decided to migrate to USA from Nepal. He loves wander in greenery. He is a positive thinker and a philanthropist. His poems have been published in a few journals and anthologies across the globe.

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Biter Cherries. Burdocks. 2 poems by Monica Manolachi

Monica Manolachi

Bitter Cherries

It took her a month to buy a salt shaker.
One day she had a last eclair with her daughters in town. 
She left her soul at home on the hallstand
and slowly climbed the airstairs
to the country of sighing where immigrants go. 
A walking dead as she was, she had no tears. 
Her life had stopped. Lunches every other day.
She remained a mother on the phone only.
When cooking for others, she thought of her family.

A straniera has no life of her own.

In supermarkets, she would turn around
to ask them basic questions: no reply.
She gradually built a fictitious prison inside.
There she exchanged verbs and cherries with her patiens. 
There she wrote her heart-wrenching letters. 
When her elder daughter gave birth to a son,
the new grandma had to conceal her intense delight 
and go on washing the dishes, cleaning the floors
as if nothing big had happened.


Burdocks

You never called her mother 
and she did not expect you to do so. 
She was the sharpest woman 
you have ever known, powerful and smart.
Cunningly smart, a ravenous burdock.
Everybody in the family was against her.
It was she who raised her brothers and sisters
after their mother perished. For that, 
everybody in the village bore a grudge against her.
She had sinned and gave up her first child 
and you had to bear a grudge too. 
It did not matter the war had just ended.
What could one do with the fallen prickly burrs
of a heart-shaped weed, seeds that no one wanted? 
That she consented to your final separation
none of your relatives cared about. 
 
You were her unwanted surplus of maternity.

When she filed for divorce in her forties, 
she had woven a huge stack of spreads
with geometric burdocks, red, purple and blue,
one inch per hour, year after year, 
pairs of each pattern, one upon the other,
one for the daughter she had to give up, 
one for her son, who was to throw her out later,
kilims that were meant for you, a strange dowry
you have never considered really yours,
which she eventually sold cheap to her sisters,
a gesture that made you feel atrocious pity
for the perfect victim she had become. 
Have you ever cried over each other’s shoulder?
What if this rustling open velcro 
could keep your hazy memories together? 


Monica Manolachi lives in Bucharest, Romania, where she teaches English and Spanish at the University of Bucharest. She is a literary translator and a poet. She has published numerous articles on contemporary poetry and prose, and is the author of Performative Identities in Contemporary Caribbean British Poetry (2017).

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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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