Persephone, I Have Questions

It is said that Persephone ate

Six seeds from the pomegranate Hades gave her

So she spends

Six months with her husband.

And six with her mother.

 

Because her mother does not approve,

Nothing grows during those months

And the earth withers under our feet.

 

But this version of the myth cannot be true.

It was only after Caesar took the throne of the Roman empire

That there were twelve months in a year

(arrogant bastard, someone should just stab him).

The myth must have changed to fit

Because the ancient Greeks didn’t have twelve months,

And this inconsistency calls into question the rest of the myth.

 

Tell us, queen of the underworld,

Were you truly kidnapped,

Or did you go willingly?

Did the lord of the dead sweep you off your feet

And into his chariot,

Or did you take his hand and go away with him?

 

Tell us, sweet Persephone,

Of how you charmed Hades himself.

Did your feet tread the same stairs

That Orpheus walked?

Did you see an opening in the rock,

And walk down into the abyss?

What scared you more, my lady,

The void below or the void inside?

 

Did your handmaidens pull you back?

Did those empty-headed nymphs beg you not to go?

Or did they ignore you,

And continue picking flowers even after you were gone?

Were you alone at the entrance to the underworld?

What did you think right before you took the plunge?

 

What was it about Lord Hades that held you so entranced?

He was powerful, yes, but so were many others.

Did you sense a loneliness that you felt yourself?

The lord of the dead is also surrounded by others

But perpetually in solitude.

Did you see a kindred spirit

Behind those gaunt cheeks and sunken eyes?

 

Did you see the souls of the dead?

Did you speak to them, and see his kindness?

Hades is not evil. He merely drew

The short straw

And got the nasty job.

Did you speak to the souls of

Aristos Achaion and his Philtatos?

Did you see how they were joined together in the afterlife,

Given in death what they could not have in life?

 

Tell me, great Persephone,

What made you go?

And more importantly,

What made you stay?

 

Why did your mother hang on so?

Why could she not let you go?

She trapped you on Sicily,

To protect you from your own beauty.

Demeter, the goddess of the harvest,

And her daughter, the goddess of springtime.

The two of you were a pair,

Striding together arm in arm.

Was she frightened for you?

Or did she want to keep you for herself?

 

Perhaps she could not stand the thought of

Separation.

Perhaps she could not stand the thought of you

Choosing death over life.

Perhaps she felt betrayed, and blamed everyone except

You.

She had carried you in her womb

And raised you from a girl,

Yet perhaps she was afraid of life without you.

What is the harvest without springtime?

 

Were you hurt, dear girl?

Did you seek her approval?

Or at least her respect?

Did you want to show her that you could be more?

That you could be a queen?

Were you forced to compromise,

Or did you simply want to make the best

Of a bad situation?

 

She wanted you to return to her.

Begged you to come back to her side,

Screamed at Hades,

Forced Zeus to bring you back.

 

What did you want, Persephone?

To be with your mother,

Or your lover?

What an impossible choice they forced you to make.

When Hades gave you the fruit, did he offer you a way to stay,

Or did he shackle you to an eternal prison?

 

Surely you would not have been so foolish,

As to eat the seeds                

Without knowing.

 

This poem is about: 
Me
Our world

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