The 2River View 23.3 (Spring 2019)

Cecil Morris

Persephone, Wasting

Persephone, out of darkness risen,
cries despondent, misses the world below,
the taste of poppy and pomegranate,
the soothing numbness, the unending night,
the lassitude that erased her fears.
Back in world of light, she squints her eyes,
complains about rehab and the losers'
dozen steps and their daily confessions,
like flocks of swooping seagulls that hector
her with screeching caws relentless, that peck
and molt and crap, dirty feathers scattered
among white splatter. She shrinks here where sun
scalds her flesh and it falls away as she
refuses food. A pale pound at a time
retreats to the dark realm, and her bones float
to the surface: clavicle, coracoid
process, acromion, scapular spine,
knobs of vertebrae, clutch of ribs: fossils
after rain pushing at skin, our daughter
Persephone's skeleton preparing
to flee, to launch itself from her starving
body, from her half life of hard candy,
cigarettes, energy drinks, and phone bank
work hissing through her like unspooling rope.

What’s a Mother to Do

Her two small girls grow magic fast and straight,
shooting up before her eyes, changing day
to day, two sprites from fairy tales or won-
derland, two spells that conjure mom from her
and make her old and hag and even witch
who makes vegetable poisons for dinner
and fruit potions to thwart wishes and dreams.
She wants to hold them back and shoo them off,
to catch them in their sweet sleep, angel-faced,
and freeze them, perfect in their becalmed still-
ness, peace like sugar sprinkled over slack
faces, or to banish their siren's shrieks,
their tears at brush strokes through Medusa hair,
tiny tangled furies, complicated
knots whose faces close in bouts of anger,
red and roaring, and pouts of defeated
desire as dark as portents of disaster.
She tries every charm she knows, all witching
words and blessing calls, every bath and balm
to soothe their choler and guide their growth,
to steer her girls from twilit shadowlands,
to lead them into light-washed meadows, bright
with hope. Some days she resigns: exhausted
hissing sigh of air brakes easing a bus
down, settling it into park, full stop.
What can one single mother hope to do
in a world awash with temptations ripe?

Cecil Morris is published in The American Scholar, Dime Show Review, The Ekphrastic Review, English Journal, Poem, and other magazines.

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