The Chicken Bone Woman by Alexandra Seidel

I have seen Baba Yaga crack the heads of chickens open;
they were ghost chickens, never-really-had-a-life chickens.
Her fingers, gnarled as thirsty roots,
made the skulls crumble
like Morpheus’s dreams upon lightfall.

Their own fault, she would say.
Because chickens are supposed to be alive,
run on their chicken feet, trace
the sweet grain of grass along their
chicken tongues.

Soup chickens, she would call them.
They were dried out things, drier
than even Baba’s own hands, drier
than Baba’s own eyes that have seen the world
and what’s beyond it.
Soup chickens, and then a crack
like walnuts spilling open.

It was I who wound up with a broom
and a small pile of bones. When the house
moved on its swift feet, there was always
wind, sharp and cold and harsh
don’t-fall-off-the-front-porch wind.
Mercy, I would sometimes hear the bones sing
just as I swept them onto a breeze;
and I never knew: was it a request or
the thing that they were thanking Baba
Yaga for?

Alexandra Seidel writes poems and stories about things that are…real. Kinda. Her work can be found at places like Lackington’s, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and others. If you are so inclined you can follow Alexa on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog:

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