Winter Mother

To ban is to summon, command,
or proclaim; to send someone away,
as in exile.  

Skeletons of hydrangeas in the back
garden, the vacant arms of the fig.

Almost everything has left
or is leaving. 

Soon it is the winter solstice, 
when the sun stands still and the folds
between dawn and dusk shorten.

In that story of the girl's 
going to the underworld, we know
more about the seeds than about 
the mother: how they glinted with color,
fecundity, increase; moon-drawn shedding.

Of course we imagine a god in his dark 
kingdom of the barren. 

Perhaps she wanted none 
of that other future: the body swollen with 
its own heaviness, the curve of another 
spine pressed against one's own.

No one is the villain, not even
the mother. Not even when she shreds
all foliage from the trees and forces
the earth to harden its heart.

White is the color of blame-
lessness. Or is it the color of death,
the color of truth, the color of forgetting?
Perhaps one day, we'll return 
to everything we thought 
we hated, which could also 
be what we once loved 
before it was relinquished.

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