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Alison Stone

 

Persephone's First Season in Hell

 

That winter I learned what the animals know.

My hair thickened,

blood grew cold and slow,

and as the flowers had fallen

from my apron, so joy and memory

spilled from the sack of my skin.

 

Now that food was safe,

I would not eat.

The chewed heart

of pomegranate blocked my throat.

 

All I had cherished went on

above. Mother's tears watered my roof.

Armored in loneliness

I learned to love no one.

The dead scurried about

while my heart slept—

red seed beneath its tree of bone.

 

I learned to quicken my husband's pleasure

and to melt memories of his touch with tears.

My marriage lengthened and coiled.

 

Above the black walls of my world, Apollo

drifted in his ring of fire.

With half his journey done,

the ground above me split.

Like a child in the womb I felt

the tingle beneath the fingernails

that marks the end of death.