Ben Morgan: a poem



Author's note

Baba Yaga is a witch from Slavic folktale. Sometimes seen as dangerous and violent, she is also a healer and a wise woman, living in harmony with the cold, Slavic forests and often consulted for her wisdom.

This sequence attempts to imagine, and recover, her experience of nature and her relationship to human beings and their bonds of love and family. It excerpts two mini-sequences, the first, "Baba Yaga's Nativity", describing her birth and life in her forest, and the second, "Baba Yaga In Love", her memories of falling in love with a man from a nearby settlement.


Baba Yaga's Nativity


Night Wood

The sky a dark craft making landfall

Soundlessly here in the forest.

The sailors are silent, efficient.

Each carries a torch

Through the branches

Which we call a star.

Each night this embassy visits,

Dipping dark earth, like bread, in the moon.

We barter at the cave's edge:

My dyed hides, my goatsmilk, my food,

For their black bulbs,

The fruit of the storm.



Ben Morgan is a poet and academic based in Oxford, UK. His first poetry pamphlet, Medea in Corinth: Poems, Prayers, Letters, and a Curse, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2018. It retold the famous myth through poetic letters, spells, prayers, sonnets and songs, as well as theatrical interludes. He has also published poems in Oxford Poetry and at The Sunday Tribune and The High Window. He has taught Shakespeare studies and early modern literature at a number of colleges in Oxford and is completing a monograph on Shakespeare and human rights for Princeton University Press.