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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Persephone by J. R. Brady




The pomegranate juice has stained my fingers...
its sweetness lingers deep inside my mouth...
in darkness I crave the taste of sweet fruit...
as once...I only craved the sun...and
my hunger keeps me safe from rescue...
deep in this place of unmentionable dreams.

My mother claims I was carried here screaming
but that is her lie...a lie needed to mourn a ‘child’
of assumed virtue....and to justify what followed.

The truth is...it began with wildflowers...
the iris...the lily...the narcissus...
all pulled from their damp earth
and clung to in fragrant armfuls...
often...I had been cautioned against taking
so many...but...back then they were uncountable.

When first I saw him...
he was riding a black horse...
heavy with sweat that dripped from
a bit pulled tight against its mouth...
I remember how he sat...quietly
watching...as I told him I could see
the animal had been driven too hard.

I never asked...but when he offered his hand
to pull me up in front of him...I took it
willingly...for the stirrup was high and I
knew...I never could have reached it alone.

The rest I remember as a dream...
my hands grasping the saddle...
eyes shut tight against the wind...until...
with a slower pace...the air turned thick and hot...
and I could see we had entered a maze of tunnels...
that wound downward in a dark tangle of directions...
where...easily...we might have lost ourselves...
had it not been for the glowing Anubis...
that ran ahead...as we traveled past
silhouetted figures with narrow...
luminous eyes...their expression strange...but
not unkind....in their curiosity


2


The chamber he took me to was warmly lit
by candles set in rock...carved with a multitude of
faces...all more animal than man...and
gently he guided me into its softest part and
offered me wine...black purple in its glass...

And I refused its taste...but not his hands as he
touched me in places where...before...only
I had given myself pleasure...until...at last...
I felt the ripping wetness of my own flesh...and
moans became screams...unstoppable...and
I knew...I was a thing taken...in a world
changed forever...alone with this stranger who
stroked my shoulder...so carefully...as
I told him there was pain in it...and I knew...
this was the beginning of my loving him.

My mother...my lover...
they fought over me...the way
people who posses things fight....
each claiming all I feel to be their own...
while I waited....lost...indecipherable.

I have seen how fruit...when placed too close to fire...
splits open...with insides changed to sugar running out...
except for the pomegranate...brittle in heat...yet
break away its skin with my fingernails...and I find
inside...a moist...swollen interior...to be dug out bit by bit...
till my hands fill with flesh and seeds and dripping  juice...
first to be licked away...then spread across my face
around my eyes...a cool wet crimson mask
turned sticky in the heat of knowing...the sun
still holds for me...the full completion of my being.

And finding me thus transformed...they realized...
I would not be kept by one...so I became divided...
ascending...descending...warming the earth with my
presence...until...inevitability...a black horse and
glowing Anubis appear...to guide me back to my
less earthly home...leaving winter in my wake
to mark my mother’s grief.


3


I am called many names...Kore...Proserpina...
Persephone...the destroyer...the bringer of birth
and death...and I wish it was not so...and often
I have wondered...would I ever have chosen
to leave...if I had seen into possibility?

But back then...I counted myself a small thing...who
hardly mattered...and then I did....and now I know...

I have stepped too far beyond the rim of consciousness to ever
deny what I am for others’ kindnesses...and that is the way of it.




J.R. Brady

updated 9/27/16...1/1/17

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