Persephone from Issue 28
You feel drunk with gorgeousness, filled up
on foods he wouldn’t touch — over-ripe pears
that dribble down your chin, cheeses
pungent as the warmth of animals,
and sour bread smeared with tomatoes and garlic.
Already you’ve caught yourself
eyeing the village boys. In from the fields,
one take his tunic to his sweaty brown face
(even his lips are sunburnt),
and then slowly to his neck: he knows
you’re watching. If he leaves the shirt
hanging from the cart, you will steal away
with it; what a heady pillow it would make.
All this jostling in the market, you’ve lost count
of how many strangers have touched you.
Your hands sticky with coins, your ears
ringing with the clamor of chickens.
Freckling your arms, the sunlight stamps out
your winter. But how you admired him!
His body like a blade of frost.
His head lifted above his ledgers
like a moon in the caves: he knew the silvered
end of every story. And when he laughed
it seemed he could hear into the deepest passages
where white moss and salts grew into sculpture
and hidden waters ticked dimly as clocks.
Tonight, why not take this boy
up the hillside with you? And as he sleeps,
a heavy leg flung over your hips,
you can look down on the village
where it is never truly quiet. A baby
cries to be nursed. In the granary mice chew
into a sack and a torrent of corn
rains over them. The face of an owl
glows in the rafters. But yours is brighter —
drenched with dew, you lie remorseless
as a river unraveling under the open sky.