Lana Hechtman Ayers


Once upon a time, I was writing in my poetry notebook and Red Riding Hood showed up with a bone to pick about her story as I’d been told it as a child. Shortly thereafter, the wolf, Baba Yaga, the woodsman, and Gretel stopped by, all with their own versions of what really happened. I had no choice but to bear witness and record what they told me as accurately as possible. Two years and 123 pages later, I realized these fairy tale personas were not merely clarifying their own tales. They were also insisting I go with them down shadowy lanes I never would have traveled on my own so that I might recognize my own story more clearly, thoroughly, deeply.



Baba Yaga Gives Red Riding Hood an Earful


I was tired of being a woman,
tired of the spoons and the pots,
tired of my mouth and my breasts...

—Anne Sexton


I've pulled the plow
by my teeth, fed souls
of unborn babes on the marrow
of my own bones.

I've called clouds down
from heaven, swallowed the stars
while in my raven guise.
I've charmed snakes,

sung to wolves,
hummed thunder and
spit rain. No one can claim
I've had a dull life.

I'm nobody's wife
and no one's Grandma.
Don't come by my roost
looking for fresh-baked pie

or warm cookies.
I'll give you fire if you bargain
fair and even a lock
of my steely hair

but you won't get a hug
from me. Don't come whining,
looking for someone to wipe
your snotty nose.

I'd sooner make soup
of your toes. I don't have time
to waste on complainers.
And men, I loved one once.

He was a woodcutting dunce
like yours, looking to marry
his mother in a younger body.
I told him to take a hike.

and when that didn't work,
I cut out his eyes and sent him
toward the pike. That Oedipus has not
been seen or heard from since.

Don't wince, honey.
Take my advice,
command mice,
enchant spindles,

put foxes in a trance,
teach your chicken-legged
house to dance.
A man will just keep you down.

How are you going to patrol
the gateway of the dead
wearing glass slippers
and a ball gown?

Trade in that red cape for
an even redder dress.
Live your story,
your own—not mine.

Never say yes
when you mean no,
and mean no
all of the time.



Ayers_Lana_Hechtman_--_Author_Photo_for_web.jpgLana Hechtman Ayers lives in the Pacific Northwest with several tuxedo cats. She is a manuscript consultant and publishes the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Series. Two collections of her poems, Dance From Inside My Bones (Snake Nation Press) and Chicken Farmer I Still Love You (DN Publishing), were published last year. Visit to view more of her work.