BABA YAGA IN CHICKEN COUNTRY
Sussex County, Delaware. Land of chicken farms,
chicken houses, chicken catchers, fortunes earned
from chickens roasted over open flames in
cinderblock pits, chicken dinners, dumplings.
Now she’s come for them, flying
40 feet above the flat, fat lands between
Chesapeake Bay and Altantic Ocean,
the legs of her house scratching the sweet soft dirt,
stirring up the powdery tilled fields.
Dust spins behind her like a parade of furies,
her three servants follow, but in this country they ride
tractors—a white servant on a white tractor with
white tires—this one is Day. A red servant on a red tractor
with mirrored fenders—this one is Sun. A black servant
on a black tractor decorated with skulls—this one is Night.
Some chicken houses rise into the air to follow–all the birds’
wings zzzzzzzzzinging like hummingbirds
fueled by her promise of wisdom and meat. Others rise up
on a thousand pairs of chicken legs, suddenly coordinated
by the sight of such giant chicken legs
and the goad of the cackling witch
screeching in Russian at her invisible servants.
The doorknob of her house has grown its own beak.
The house pecks at the ground for anything it can find—
whole cornstalks, possums, pigs, chicken farmers.
Baba Yaga’s found the piles of feathers, beaks and bones
behind the processing plant. She’s landed her mortar and
pestle (her favorite way to fly) and loaded the bowl
with what’s left. She’s grinding away.
Hear the bones shattering? The beaks cracking
between the rock of the bowl and
the rocking pestle? See the filaments
flutter up around her grinning face as she grinds.
The chicken houses have skidded to a halt.
The chicken houses wait. Even Baba Yaga’s own house
bends over to watch. They all watch her pouring
blood that is neither theirs nor their fellows’,
watch her stir and speak words full of k and sh and io
all stirred up together.
The mortar boils over with bricks,
thousands of bricks pushed over the rim by
more bricks rising up from the bowl. Bricks tumble
everywhere. Baba Yaga speaks again to the bricks
and they pile, brick on brick, rising up.
They become an oven. All the chicken houses
dance and scratch the ground while
she fuels the oven with their manure. They know
the oven’s not for them.