Gingerbread House Lit Mag

The Imposter

It’s quite clear the heroine must journey
through birches and pines,
through snow drifts
or the summer’s biting heat.
The path ends.

The shadow spreads—
she stares at a skull so old
it has no memory
of flesh, impaled
on a wrought iron fence.

She clings to a doll
sewn by her late mother
and opens the creaking gate.

This is the house
I was born in;
my mother was born in.
I was cradled
by each apple tree,
scraped my knees
in the driveway roller-skating.

Then I found the picture—
a saint
wearing my mother’s face.
I knew the woman in the kitchen
rolling pie crusts
wasn’t really my grandmother.

I thought the house would shatter—
instead it grew
chicken legs.

She was not blood, but
Baba Yaga
with grinding iron teeth
and a penchant for cooking children.

I knew one misstep,
one mislaid seed,
Legos left sprawled on the floor,
and she would lead me
through the oven door.

Though nothing more than rags
that doll
separates wheat from chaff,
spins miles of thread
as the heroine dries her eyes.

My saint’s picture hid
between the mattress and box spring
growing gold filigree.
Light blazed
from her eyes,
boring through cloth and walls,
always watching me,
leaving me
to each task
that the witch asked:
to dry
a pile of dishes with a flimsy towel
but there was always another stack,
to clean the scuff marks
from the floor
but the jagged lines
always came back.

No chore could ever really be done.
Folding clean clothes
crawling with centipedes,
I knew that my saint would never ask
for such impossible things.

I fled, careening though branches,
tripping on the pine needle floor
of a newly sprouted forest.
I didn’t stop
until pale dawn galloped by.
Looking back
I couldn’t find my path,
couldn’t see through the trees.

Even if I could,
what would I see?
A house like any other,
a grandmother
instead of a monster.

My saint’s gold starts to flake,
the flesh dissolving
as I meet its skull’s even stare
and grind my teeth.

Jennifer Lynn Krohn

Jennifer Lynn Krohn was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she currently lives with her husband. She earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico, and she currently teaches English at Central New Mexico Community College and Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Jennifer has published work in The Saranac Review, Río Grande Review, RED OCHRE LiT, Prick of the Spindle and In the Garden of the Crow

Art Credit:  Forest Rogers, “Baba Yaga Dines,” ( 

This entry was published on August 24, 2013 at 12:00 am and is filed under 2 (August 2013), Archive, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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