Monday, May 26, 2008

Ancient one

She is Baba Yaga.

Her fence is not made of bones and adorned with skulls;
these things are no longer in vogue with the neighbours
and they contravene local bylaws.

Instead, she buries her bones in the rose garden
(they are mostly from long lost, once loved pets;
not the bones of children, as was rumoured).

Her fence is perfect white vinyl lattice.

You would never know who she is
from looking at her fence;
you would never guess what lies beneath.

Go through the perfect, catalogue-ordered gate
and you will see, her home is not an exotic shack
hopping around the yard on the
giant foot of a chicken.

No, it is not. That delightful image is from long-ago
Slavic tales, and it does not suit this
banal subdivision. It would disturb the neighbours
and besides, the building code requires
a concrete foundation.

Her chicken’s foot resides well below the surface
where it can hop undetected. Fortunately the foot
is the silent part of the chicken. Hoots, clucks
and braying sounds are not permitted
within city limits.

As for her pestle and mortar, well, she does not dare
to fly since she lives so near the airport.
This mode of transportation
does not meet national standards for aircraft safety,
and besides, where would she land
amongst all these vinyl monstrosities?

You would never know who she is.

Yet she is here,
very real, very old, very ready
to make a meal of your most delicious
childhood afternoons,
your fondest memories, the taste of your sweet one
on your lips. You will feel the loss
of these treasures like the ache of
a missing tooth

once you have crossed her path.
You will be sucked dry of any joy, any delight

and you may not even know it has happened.


Rachel Westfall
May 26, 2008

2 comments:

Kyddryn said...

Oh, ugh, sounds like a few people I've known, so joyless and dry they would desiccate just with their presence.

I always felt a little sorry for them, who couldn't find happiness unless it was in others' sorrow or discomfort.

Poor old Baba Yaga...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

RachelW said...

Baba Yaga was always one of my favourite fairy tale characters. I remember as a child not really believing she could be bad, since she had such an incredible house on a chicken foot, and she flew about in a mortar. She sounded too interesting to be bitter and evil.