Bone Mother by Holly Black

Bone Mother
by Holly Black

The daughter is too bold
to be anything but
a cuckoo in the nest.
Good girls sit home
and sew in the dark.
They don’t go seeking fire
in the witch’s woods.

A rider, his horse
black as cooked blood
leads her to the house.
There, she learns to part
seed from stone,
sweet from spoilt,
fate from fortune.

The witch is old, ravenous,
fat belly and spindle thighs.
The moonlight glints off
the rusted iron of her teeth
like it glinted off
a mother’s needles.
Fire that will never catch and burn.

At midday there is a rider,
his horse as red as meat.
As red as the strike of tinder
in a dry woods.
The stove gets hot fast.
The girl knows one way
to slake the witch’s hunger.

There is another rider
that leads her back.
His horse is white
as fresh chopped bone.
The daughter’s hands are cold
But her eyes are blazing
She has learned the making
Of her own fires.

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