- after “Persephone” (2015) by Judith Schaechter
Here, it isn’t winter yet, though the spiked
leaf of the holly is its herald. Among the dry
rattle-pods and hairless weeds, a single
blood-red stem sends its network of roots
into the earth, a system interrupted
by cells of dormant seeds: crimson
and indigo, ending in the hollow where
she is trapped or where, depending on how
you’d like to retell her story, she prepares
to break through that ceiling. She’s not
too far away from the surface: it looks
as though she only needs to give one last
firm push with her left foot against a ledge
of rock in her enclosure, and she might stand,
clearing the blurry border between above
and below with a shower of soil and loamy
gravel. Except now she must do it alone:
the mother is nowhere in the picture, and
neither is the infamous lord of her abduction.
Only one insistent flower tethers her to
this world, and neither of them lets go.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.