Portrait in Stained Glass of Persephone Engineering Her Own Escape

- 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.

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