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carefree | ray of light

《a poetry excerpt》Persephone by B. A. St. Andrews

I.

They call me Daughter of Darkness,
Pomegranate Girl, call me
wanton, say I yielded foolishly
to some wild force surging through
curled fronds and came to harm
because I could resist no more
than Sibyls roused to madness
by Apollo's kiss. But there is
more to bitter sacrifice than this.

II.

Everywhere that day were poppies:
silver light and pollen like gold boats
bobbing in lakes of air. The fragrance
of my carefree life rose higher
than incense on Greek altars.
Yet for me the morning seemed sadder
than all supplication, more desperate
than twilight birds calling "Lost, lost,"
more choked with yearning than Demeter's
devoted throngs murmuring for grain
or rain or respite from imagined wrongs.

I was led from childhood friends--
Sisters of Cyclamen, Morning's Maids,
Flower Weavers whose laughter
was gold coins around my feet. I
only wandered off because I heard
a larkspur speak my name. Tipping
my ear to its emerald lip for the secret
I slipped like dew down its stem.

III.

Crying. Entangled. Caught in a web
of roots I knew the truth of all
vanishing things. I cried out for
Demeter until the mud dividing her
domain from all that is now mine
smeared my mouth and sealed my eyes.

Thrown under a wheel of darkness,
I was ground down like amber
wheat under remorseless stone.
Falling inside such darkness: I,
Maid of All Meadows, Singer
of Streams and Skies. In this
infinity of falling I found this
lost world, this twilight world:

I, Cherished of Sunlight, Sister
of Dawn, Child of May, Heir to
All Harvests. I was broken
stone thrown in the Well
of Nothingness. But there is more
to bitter sacrifice than this.

IV.

I could hear, far as skies above me,
Demeter's terror. She clawed canyons,
tore mountains like green silk, lifted
forests full of sleeping creatures
to find me. I stumbled on below
through dank infinity. Nearly blind
I groped through valleys of blue
smoke, crossed bridges of bone
and blasted root thrown over
vaporous chasms, took into my
clotted lungs the cloying
incense of the moldering dead.

Suddenly He spoke my name or
another name that is now mine.
His voice was shy as April
hyacinths, his voice was sorrow
beyond the solace of all seasons.
His voice took shape swaying
like a silver rope trailing
a skiff through water. His eyes
were hyacinths, purple with
loss, vineyards of longing,
the thirst of desert roots.

His arms were silver sickles
harvesting gold grain around
my heart. I held my palms
as shields and warning hard
against my chest and still
his eyes pressed unrelenting
inside my emerald glade.
Finally he quieted and lay
like a faun on nests of pine.

Thus, like a small terrified beast,
Hades became mine. His skin
was soft and crisp as morning
crocus. His cold bolted through me
like blue lightning could once do.
My touch shifted like light across
his mottled skin. Under my hands
he was like sleepy silver snakes
of Mother's palace that twined
themselves to bracelets on my
arm to waken from some dream
or fright and bite the tender limbs
they dreamt upon. Meaning no harm.

V.

Queen of Afterlife, caught between
such sweetness and such strife, I
startled into this, my second life.
Above us all the while was Demeter
freezing sap and womb and season.
When her ceaseless ragings threatened
even Phoebus, Zeus called both worlds
to reason. Hades must atone;
Demeter could not remain alone.

Again, for sacrifice, the Gods chose
me, Queen of Seeds, Loom of Shadows.
So I came to wander in both worlds,
one my mother's, one my lover's:
neither purely mine. Before slipping
again through that slender larkspur's
stem I made the Promise
of the Pomegranates. I chose
to take that blood seed from His
trembling lips. It folded like a secret
child beneath the curled rose
of my tongue. The King of Death
and I were pledged forever One.

To weeping choirs of birds I
kissed those violet eyes and vowed
return. Then, sure of my purposes
as a seed (sure of the double life
known by the secret root that feeds
the sun-gorged fruit) I took up
the task of separation, half
from sunshine, half from night
and climbed again the thin
green path to Earth and light.

VI.

Much altered was the place
of sunstorms as I hurried to my
childhood home. The landscape
was abloom with only stones;
I seemed to walk frost-dazed
roads alone. Then as through
a distant crystal cloud I saw
Her. Mother, wearing a diadem
of snow, was crooning a dirge
from the dawn of days. Glazed
pines stretched blue fingers
toward a frozen sun. At once
pure love for the Mother of
All Things blazed up in me.

As suddenly I felt heat flare
at my back; my every step
sprung flowers: bloodroot, snow
drop, gentian, sage. I heard
a wood thrush sing. When I
moved inside the circle of my
Mother's arms the whole
exultant Earth cried awakenings.
Summer days are a hummingbird's
kiss; summer days roll swift
as rivers. But there is more to
bitter sacrifice than this.

VII.

Thus was my Destiny decided:
Dutiful to green mother and to
tenebrous lover I must search
out those I love and leave them.
Arriving only and always to depart
my full heart knows its shatterings
and has reasons to split open
tender as red maple leaves.

I am uncomplaining seed
and self-containing sorrow:
Eternal Wife, Eternal Daughter
I am both Life and Afterlife.
Silent I am the music
of two worlds. Persephone,
Queen of Shadows. I,
Kore, the Pomegranate Girl.

Written by B. A. St. Andrews. Might use it in layout or profile.

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carefree | ray of light

May 2015

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