Persephone Leaving by Mary Jo Bang (Poem#12)

Persephone Leaving

by Mary Jo Bang

She’s picking flowers, meadow goldenrod
and belladonna, sometime near noon.
Do you see her? Hugging the shade

at the meadow’s edge. And comes Pluto
from Hades in his golden chariot
heart full of flung arrows from cupid’s bow.

See her and knows for certain this one,
her, Persephone but can’t say why.
It only takes a single Trust me

and she climbs inside. She would kiss him
but he says, It isn’t done
like that where I come from. And who to know

better than a man with many names.
Black horses paw the ground impatient
and it begins to rain, so they leave.

In Hades she is Queen. Her subjects, shadows.
She doesn’t mind; so much the better,
they don’t talk back.

She cries, but only later – when she has to leave,
retract her adoration from him
at the door, temple statue with gleaming feet

where hands have enacted a litany or touch
And he? He feels an arrow break free;
a brief moment of difficulty

as it navigates an arterial narrowing.
She had wanted to eat the whole fruit.
Knowing there would be hell to pay upstairs,

he stopped her. Heartsick, she refuses
to look at him – seven pomegranate seeds clutched
in her hand and the always ravenous hunger.


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