She wanted to know how the ‘in’ felt;
so familiar with the ‘out’
that a glass wall of her own making
hedged the air around her.

She wanted to feel the warmth of ‘kin’
but did not know the words
for ‘hearth’ or ‘kith’ or even ‘aah’
spoken in the golden fireside.

She looked through the window
and saw Baba Yaga & dangerous bears
where there were only porridge bowls
and a sliver of butter.

She who does not know how to turn silver into gold;
She who knows too well how to turn herself
inside out,
but not right-side up;
She who has eaten too many forbidden seeds
Is not sure about this upper world now;
The familiar claws are absent, and so
Must be imagined anew…

That there cannot be a hand out-reaching.
I knew the Lord of the Dead.
How can you expect me to think
that you are not him in disguise?

She wanted the warm embrace
but turned towards the cold
damp bark
and wondered why it did not
warm her;

She wanted to know princes, but
could not help slaying them
wondering where the love went,
as their blood stained her delicate feet.

She wanted simplicity and the firm ground;
when she asked for certainty, the earth
split open and swallowed her again
and again
and again.


Too familiar with darkness to kindle light;
Too weighted by the heavy cloak of days
to lift her feet in dancing;
Too expert in the ways of the soul
to let her spirit fly;
Gravity had told her: I am your only ally.

Now she fell back into the Earth
and neither ‘in’ nor ‘kin’ nor ‘kith’
could reach her.

This is my country;
Here I am the Queen and
royalty may be a fair exchange
for the lives of other worlds
and the ‘aah’ and ‘hearth’ and ‘kith’
of them;
They were never my kin
and, besides,
the Lord of the Underworld
is the only one who ever
knew me.


But, though she wanted the dark,
the light kept haunting her;
In the familiar, comforting nightmares,
shafts of sun appeared through grimy windows.
Withered trees began to blossom
and though she chased them with a crushing foot,
snowdrops began to grow more quickly
than she could press them into death.
All her silver jewellery
and her Plutonian riches,
glimmered with impossible, golden light.

In the centre of familiar despair,
treacherous hope was born and born
though she tied it tight to stones of grief
and dropped them constantly
into the intimate well of sorrow,
hope sang its song to her,
betraying her monarchy with
whispers of insolent possibility.
Though she commanded its execution,
Its corpse would never rest;
no grave could keep it.

Songbirds were born on her window-sill
every morning
and however often she visits
the river to forget,
she cannot wash love
from her hands.


She who is tied to the wheel,
cannot help but turn;
She who is not dead,
cannot help but be alive;
For all her dark garments of shadow,
she cannot kill the light.

Though she veils her eyes,
they are beginning to shimmer;
Though she decries laughter,
it bubbles from her
while the dark guard of
her determination
has its back turned;
a spring flows,
for all the concrete she pours
against its birth.
Though she is the Queen of the Underworld,
everybody knows she was born in Heaven.

She wants the ‘out’, but ‘in’ is taking her again;
She wants the cold, the dark, the brooding,
but warmth and light and dancing
are reaching for her;
Soon, a crack in the sky will open
and she will fall again,
but upwards;
What messenger of Heaven will
pluck this fruit of darkness
and initiate her again into light?


Can I never know home?
Nor exile?
Can I never know kin?
Nor isolation?
Can I stand neither
enfolded at the hearth,
nor in the stricken heath, deserted?
If I cannot be in familiar darkness
or light,
Who am I?

She is the one who crosses constantly;
she cannot reside, but
make temporary camp;
Not in heaven, nor hell;
Not in soul, nor spirit;
Not in the embracing arms of home,
nor in the wild and
desolate ecstasy of solitude.

One day, she will learn;
Though she asks for constancy,
there is only her coming and going,
the tide of her washing the
light world
and the dark;
One day, she will remember:
she cannot carve herself
a monument that lasts in either world,
Only pile stones as she passes,
temporary testaments of being.

One day she will remember how to sing;
whether it is sorrow or joy,
the rising or falling chord,
there is always the music of the movement;
it is the only constancy
she will ever know.
It is the messenger that lifts her up
and reminds her to descend.

One night or day,
for all her defences against sufficiency,
it may just be enough.


2 thoughts on “Persephone

  1. Persephone needs Spring something awful! Again, exquisite exposure of this very confusing archetype I know so well. Very sensitive and written compassionately and with clear intimate knowledge as if you know this place well.

    1. I know the place well, but have known many who know it better. Thanks for the words, Catherine. Hoping that Spring has come to you now – here is bright Summer already, seemingly from nowhere, but always waiting to be.

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