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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.


See, husband, heart's husband, how they come to me, the moon-skinned, impossible fish: like children or lovers, with gratitude, they seek out my palms, go to sleep. I walk from the river hobbled by two baskets' bounty, lay their pieces of silver to rest on my kitchen table. The blackbird and owl start and peck and have to be scolded; the fire deepens, a white-hearted red. You, husband, can pour out the wine: sweet wine for your delicate palette, red for the bone-marrow soup.

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.

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