Another Letter to Persephone

Growing up, I did not know the mythical
pomegranate, its leathery hull hiding
sacs of ruby-colored beads— the ones
you slid under your hungry tongue

to suck, forgetting your captor’s warning.
I did not know the stains that reddened
fingers shucking them in the bowl, how
each, merely the size of a broken-off

tooth, gravely bore a full raft
of consequences, unreeling through
the seasons— I did not know that smell
from the underworld of festering

desire, dank and sour-sweet like a dog’s
wet fur or an old wool robe, and how
it could follow you aboveground. Girl
that I was too, what did I know?

Between my teeth I cracked salted
watermelon seeds and blistered
the papery shells of passion fruit,
desperate to quit the ennui

of my listless existence, eager
to dive into the fire of real life,
whatever that might be. Lickety
split, here I am: shored up past

the middle course, the frost
beginning to thicken the hair-roots
at my temples. I have daughters too,
for whom I’ve paid ransoms now

beyond calculating. Does the story
ever finish? or does it merely go on—
summer a flash, then that consuming,
unmapped winter? The eldest daughter

consoles me through a window crackling
to life, holding a dumpling that she
has made, up to the screen: almost close
enough to touch and taste. Another says

she wants to return to a simpler place,
a country where there’s only one example
of everything. A third dreams of birds
in trees and the music she wants to make

from the wood in her arms. And this
morning, my husband, making scrambled eggs
in the kitchen, rushed upstairs bowl in hand,
to show our youngest girl the amazement

of a double yolk. And I, I look on, still
fumbling with charts and keys: daughter-
mother, mother-daughter, swallowing mouthful
after mouthful of glittering seeds.


In response to small stone (93).

2 Replies to “Another Letter to Persephone”

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