Patricia Alford : Old Bone Woman

Fall '07 TOC


You asked to have your heart plucked out


You are old and your children are gone
and you want to feel love one more time
Baba has you now in her sure hands
Your heart she treats especially tenderly
She picks the herbs in the waxing moon
and on the first day of a dry barren sign
She prepares them when the moon is full
hangs them from the pantry  rafters

She stores them in a chest with many drawers
With rue and balm Baba Yaga will cure you


Your womb is a hollow gourd


Seeds rattle against the walls
Baba grinds pigments
from marigold petals and lichen
from beetles and clay
She paints the shell
with the sign for the eye
the gate, the tree and the new moon
and hangs it on a high branch


so it can see far
so it can speak and bring rain


Your bones are a lighted lamp


Baba Yaga cleans your bones
with an old bottle brush
and silver polish
When she is done they gleam
like the old moon's candlesticks
They are sleek and musical
like cobbles on the beach. They smell
of Baba's memory of the sea and the moss
she beds them in on the attic floor


You have ink-stained fingers;
your bones will burn blue.



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Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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