Baba Yaga Duet
by Midori Snyder and Taiko Haessler
My daughter when you were small
How I wanted to eat you.
Cast off flesh of my flesh
I wanted to keep you in me,
Digest my fear of losing you as I swallowed
You whole, plumped and roasted.
Can you forgive the way I fretted over the oven
And took the measure of your
Wrists with my worried fingers?
Skillful, you eluded me.
Growing stalk thin and green.
The lilac scent of your skin brings tears.
Candle stubs in your pockets, I know
You are anxiously waiting
For your life to begin.
For the man on whose shoulder you will drip tallow,
For the journey you are willing to make
To free yourself and him
From those like me, brutal in our bodies.
We walk out together and I grown old
No longer hide my yellowed tusks.
Men stare at you as we pass and
I smell the familiar hunger.
Their glances wicked knives
Slicing the perfumed curves of your body.
Their eyes slide off your shoulder and catch
Mine staring back, razor–edged and spiteful.
My grizzled chin lifts, claws unfurling.
Lips ashen, they step away.
They let us pass knowing
They are not the ones to take you
— Midori Snyder
Baba Yaga's Daughter
Are you hungry, Old Woman?
Let me make you something tender
While you sit in your little cottage.
You stay here and I'll take your silver
and your wrinkled advice
I will walk through thicket and thorn
And bleed the trail from my mortal feet.
I will capture the fox and
steal his trickery.
No doubt he will capture me back,
but I'll negotiate him, Old Woman,
and we'll fix ourselves an understanding.
I will sing to myself the comfort
you taught me how to procure.
I will forget the words and decide to
sing another language.
When I reach the market,
the foreigners will find
my new tongue attractive.
They will certainly give me a
good deal then, Old Woman!
They will rush to bandage my feet
and inspect other scars.
I will want to ask them
to help carry home your meal,
But I will be too wise.
Are you still hungry, Old Woman?
Are you rocking on your chicken claws
and picking at your iron teeth?
Well, you will have to wait some more.
You see, I want to make for you the
sweetest tastes (of course)
and beyond the market, Old Woman,
on blue sand that meets milk white water,
I see strange, handsome fish.
I am going just a little farther from your cottage.
After all, you have the bones to nibble
while I am away.
Suck on them hard and inventory
the flavors that linger.
Spin your fingers around a femur
stuffed with marrow
and quench your idol, rusting fetish
while I am away.
It should still be savory in my absence.
Old Woman! You are wasting away!
Those eyes that once crackled bright
in your little cottage
seem opal cold through aged, pursed lids.
I will warm you with a dinner and
spiced herbal cider.
Won't you be stunned to see,
in your weakened state, Old Woman,
that I have brought more than fish!
I will teach you, now that you have
burned your old recipes,
the new ones I remedied.
And I will uncover the hidden plants
I've stashed in my hair,
the worlds I have in my mouth,
the tattoos woven in my skin
and the sky I discovered in my breast.
Old Woman, this will surely be your
— Taiko Haessler