Russian Doll – Motherhood Poem

Russian Dolls

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

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