June 14, 2011 | by Rachel Jamison Webster
Today’s poem is a reimagining of Persephone’s mistaken choice to eat a pomegranate in Hades—every seed she ate condemned her to spend a month in the Underwold, leading her mother, Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, to mourn. For this reason, according to Greek myth, we have winter. Here, appropriately, the old myth is submerged in a bemused interrogation of female independence, and the ways that desire—deep physical desire—can threaten that.
What kind of woman
eats a pomegranate with her lover
while holding her own purse?
I had been trying to get out
all day. Death had been boiling up in me
and I needed to walk into the golding
of redbud and burnishing ivy
climbing the walls like a long unknotting sigh.
He tore into the skin like a wolf.
And then no one, hardly anyone
could step away from those
cold garnets pinned into flesh.
We ate the whole thing
standing up. I held my own
half like a cup and thumbed open
the pale dividing sponge, and I plucked.
He sucked and spit the seeds
through wet lips, tipped
and drank the pool of red.
Then the leathered sacks
and brittling pulp.
Stained lace, a centerless
form calling in low sun
and want, the onrolling landscape.