The Rape of Persephone

(Inspired by the sculpture of “The Rape of Persephone” by Bernini, in the Villa Borghese, Rome, Italy)

Susan A. Katz

You could not know how much

less than wondrous would be

the substance of you illusion

as you gazed at the river

fidgeting among the reeds, you could

not name the longing or begin

to place a face on desire too pure

for shape, it clung

to your mind like the fragrance

of flowers, hours lay

strewn like petals

at your feet, browning

blades of grass thrummed

through your fingertips

as you waited in your garden

of eternal spring to learn

how truth would taste

on your tongue.

It was too soon to know

what you would spend eternity

learning to forget, all that had gone

before would hang like the moon

in a dark sky, too cold

for comfort, terror

began whole, overripe, it seared

your flesh, turning it

to ash, your pores leaking

sweat, your hand boning

into fists, your heart beating

always to rhythms of unhurried

time, flailed against the hindrance

of your ribs breaking beneath

his bilious grip, daughter

of dreams and gods, the wind

carried your screams till they tamed

to a mere whispering

amongst the leaves.

Lifted to be launched upon

his charging steeds, their iron-colored

reins let loose to drag

grappling your side

and thigh, his laughter slicing thin

vanity’s skin, would you

if heritage allowed it, have prayed

to die?

And as the River Cyane bowed

to Pluto’s passion and halved itself

to swallow you whole, did you

yet know the queenly title your few

bright drops of virgin’s blood

would buy?

Though legend tells us gods

must never cry, your heart

unlocked the prison of your grief

and gave you leave to weep, who look

at you stiff in stone knows fear and sinks

to troubled sleep at night, drowning

in the river of you one white tear.

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