Russian Dolls have a significance to me, as objects that bring me joy. Perhaps it’s the shape of them, the bright colours or the motherly connotations, which provide comfort . . . The presence of an open fire or stove has also become important to me, particularly in winter, when the orange glow helps to promote a cosy well-being. But fires can also tell stories and hold up pictures to the imagination, if only for a short time.

One evening, my husband alerted me to the fact that a piece of coal at the heart of our fire had taken on the appearance of a Russian Doll. We watched it together and commented on the sacrificial undertones, which led me into a chain of thought: a woman’s body, a witch burning at the stake, lost possibilities, lost children . . . I’ll let the poem do the rest of the talking.

Russian Doll

We’re sacrificing a Russian Doll,
my husband says

and I see
her waist,
the curve
head and body –
a body of coal.

Flames raise hands
to her dignified form,
worship a woman in heat.

She is no witch,
she is just warm-hearted, modest,
her back burns first.

And when there is only ash
it occurs to me, she could
have housed the bodies of others:

Children, their ghosts
with fingers on lips,
whispering, mother, mama.

K. S. Moore

First Published in The Ogham Stone.

Photo by byJoeLodge on / CC BY

Previous articleMy Poem – Milk – in New Welsh Review
Next articleSustenance – Spoken Word Poem
K. S. Moore is a Welsh Poet and Writer, based in Ireland. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Stinging Fly, Southword and Crannog.Online magazines: Nutshells and Nuggets, And Other Poems, and Ink Sweat and Tears have also featured poems. Meanwhile, flash fiction and short stories have been published in FlashFlood, Metazen, Number Eleven and The Bohemyth.K. S. Moore has been shortlisted for Flash Mob 2013, Blog Awards Ireland and 99 Fiction. She has performed at Waterford Writers' Weekend, Waterford Winterval and Swansea's Dylan Thomas Festival.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here