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 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.