hades and persephone
The legend goes:
I am young, the world a field of lilies and magnolia.
A chestnut tree, flower crowns woven in soft light. I reach out
for one and my mother has gone lost harvest, full moon over the fields and
just before the start, I smell her everywhere.
Hades comes on his horses, the chestnut tree splits center
and erupts. The world goes flat, the moon a dark sliver
over some forlorn winter field. My scream is a wind whisper
whistling through the wheat. I learn that loss is the breath
between descent and rebirth. In an instant, I feel small.
The flower crown withers. I am no longer the maiden
but a crone, Queen of the Dead.
From below, I can see the breath of the world,
how everything is alive. My mother stops eating, the nectar
too bitter without the flower to guide. I see her searching
for me from beneath her feet, make tally marks on the wall.
Mount Olympus erupts from somewhere overhead.
I think of the chestnut tree, wonder if life
can be reborn out of bark charred and blackened.
Others descend to meet me here, strike deals, relearn
the way a heart aches in loss. Even Boreas grieves.
The crops wither and die, a world of endless sun cycles
gone cold, lifeless. We do not yet know of sleep.
The legend goes:
Twice Hades tricked me
and there I ate the pomegranate seeds,
doomed to life among the dead.
The legend also goes:
I discovered myself in the depths,
stained my own lips red,
and learned to bless the night
as much as the day.
I say to Hades, red lipped:
Tell me your death was only the beginning.
Tell me the light is not gone but changed.
Tell me that loss is love misunderstood.
He says: You are the soil at the center
of it all. He says: you are the seed.
He once lived on Olympus with the rest.
The legend goes: I return, a third trick of the light.
Spring. The chestnut tree buds, pillars of white
flowers and trunk strong. In Summer, I am breathing
in new life and nourishing. Autumn arrives
like clockwork, the scent of decay strong
and beautiful. Then, a cold chill, a gavel strikes slow.
Year after year, I prepare for the descent, each time
a little less bitter. My mother weeps for damage
too routine to change. I tell her: Do not cry,
this is how we make sense of it all.
And so, I descend. The gift of darkness is appreciation
of the light, and I am learning from my mother
how a seed takes root. I am not afraid to go alone.
Hundreds of years later,
my lips will still be blood red from those six seeds,
the legend living in under the hard shell,
tucked into the silk yellow membranes.
The twisted bark of the pomegranate tree
whispers my story. Think of me in the seeds.
I am Persephone: rebirth.
The days are dark, the nights are lonely
Since you left me all alone
I’ve worried so my little darling
I’ve loved you so even though you have gone
pomegranate seeds and clover honey
Queen of sweetness, bury the sting
of your embrace beneath my skin,
chalcedony briars tipped with nectar
make me bleed, goddess, dark
as the jewel chip bursts of tartness,
golden as your holy gaze
beyond the river and the black gates
«She narrowed her eyes at him. “If this is my dream, oneroi, then answer my question. Who are you?”
The voice of a natural ruler, he thought. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “I am your lord husband”» - Receiver of Many
Flowers dipped in liquid nitrogen and then smashed.
— Rainer Maria Rilke
ΠΛΟΥΤΟΝΕΙΟΝ, PLOUTONION, Eleusis, Athens, Greece
Located in the sacred archeological grounds of Elefsina. Ploutonion is said to be the place where Hades appeared to abduct the beloved daughter of Demeter, Persephone. From that exact spot he guided Kore to his Underworld Kingdom and made her his Queen.The cave is said to lead to the Underworld itself. Before the cave once stood a temple dedicated to Pluton/Hades.
The rivers all run stagnant here
and cold and dark and deep.
No merry little tinkling streams
to sing me off to sleep.
The fields all lie asleep in here,
where many tears are shed.
Even the grass lies bent in grief
and reverence for the dead.
The shades live on, live on down here
in glory or in shame;
with no one but their fellow dead
with whom to share their fame.
But for all the silent shadows
and all the lifeless air,
I will always cross those rivers
and learn to call them fair.
To your kingdom I bring starlight
in the glowing of my eyes,
and you will always welcome me
as your glory, not your prize.