What Does Persephone Want?

 

Our daughter Persephone comes and goes.

She plays peek-a-boo with Oxycodone

and Ambien.  She likes it in the dark,

a paradox for when she goes she takes

our sun with her and leaves us only night.

 

When she returns, she brings pallor and chill

and slumps in sleep like asparagus boiled

to limp defeat.  She carries bruises, too,

as if she wrestled with demons or gods

and did not quite escape their fiercest holds.

 

We welcome our daughter, this almost ghost

who does not smile or speak, who barely lifts

her head.  We feed her favored fruits and honey,

make evident (we think) our love, but she—

she sleeps and only sleeps as if the weight

 

of waking crushes her, as if she has

become her great grandmother, embodiment

of death who waits (asleep) to take the last

step from this world to the next, as if done,

done, done, and unwilling to wrestle more.

 

We Have to Let Persephone Go

 

Our daughter Persephone went down to death

to see what it was like and liked it well enough

to stay the whole season in darkness and damp

 

in that underground of hidden things and worms.

With her, she took her secret toys and our joy

and left for us her sad-eyed terrier mix,

 

her unfinished business, and a disco wig

of purple tinsel that seemed to spark with light.

We imagined her scrubbing her hair with dirt

 

and soaking in rejuvenating mud baths

then returning more youthful and radiant

than before, our one daughter renewed, re-born.

 

When it became clear she was not coming back,

we offered to visit her there, to bring her

the red cinnamon candy she preferred

 

or that frozen yogurt sold by the pound

and layered with multi-colored sprinkles,

but she said we could not come, could not yet pass

 

the needle’s eye as she had done.  We were left

bereft as when she went to college but more.

 

Cecil Morris

Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English, and now he tries writing what he spent so many years teaching others to understand and (he hopes) to enjoy. He has poems appearing or forthcoming in English Journal, Rust + Moth, Sugar House Review, Willawaw Journal, and other literary magazines.

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