Deborah Finch The 2River View, 5.3 (Spring 2001)

15 Perceptions of Hades
As Recorded in Persephone's Diary

At this hour,
          I float
away from your shadow,
a bubble blown
or imagined
by a girl of six,
maybe your daughter.
          It pops
on the neighborís porchlight
with a small wet smack
ending yet another dream
that I can live
without you.
Perhaps my escape
was a childís thumb
from a sucking mouth,
at least its round trip
ended with sound like that.

Every day
my thoughts slip
one molecule at a time
away from your kingdom
          of tunnels and madness
into mesquite canopies
where hunting whipsnakes
flex their lengthy muscles
from thorny branch to branch.
          Moving air
from summerís exhalation
circulates the scent
of congealing late-night panic,
passing through arroyos
into neighborhoods
where windows shudder
          at the sight of sun
                    in the veined red eyes of dawn.

Summerís glare
strains into living rooms,
spreading over aging wives
          asleep on chairs
in underwear.
          Sun strikes glass,
tissue lint drifts in air,
lured from twisted shreds
trapped in crocheted blankets.
          But in the shade
of your damp firmament,
kisses move with rushing sounds
enveloping me from everywhere,
and you donít care
if I am gray-haired,
                    or breastless.

Purpose evaporates
in a reflexive burst of thistle-seeds.
Seeds glide down on parachutes
brushing earthen flanks
          of burning-dry acequias.
Demeterís hand
sifts such seeds through shadows
in her daughterís mind.
          She spins around
in Ziaís dance to grow new corn—
tornadoes daze New Mexico.
          Husbands pull
                    their young wives down.
Drought abounds. A daughterís life
          seeps underground.

Plumed seeds land in arroyos
where water stored for Indians
          vanished into Texas,
where innocence
and munificent mothersí tears
Demeter searches for liquid beads
to string her daughterís psyche
into a silver rope
for climbing slopes
          of Hadesí hold
to a mesa top
          of sanity.

The dark folds me
in river silt and cottonwood ashes
blown from the Pueblo
          of Isleta
into the water swirling
around my fatherís death.
I lie down
in irrigation ditches
beside abandoned bodies
of men I could
          have loved
and hold their skeletons.

My mother wanders
          on levies
in her loose black dress
using a Oaxacan cane
to divine directions
from my sadness.
Its parrot head
speaks to me in Spanish,
names of men
I never slept with.
Her toes may graze
my marriage crown.
Its tips emerge
like willow shoots
from deposits of salt
and tamarisk needles.
          My mother closes her eyes.
The river reaches south
          and dies.
                    And so you will lie
and rock beside me
in the darkening ebb of time.

You kiss my wrist, its pulse, and stay,
                    my channel wash
with its dragging sound
of quail bones tangled
in leaves and algae
          is fine,
and what I say
or donít say
will n(ever) leave
your mouth
or mind.

Boldly take me,
          shadow inside me,
                    hand on my soul,
into your lonely den
where secrets arenít lies
I tell to myself.
Take me from places
where nothing,
          not even dogs
                    or fathers,
can step without fear
of small things
of someone
wetting a bed.

is where I turn around
to the sound of dogs
from childhood
          barking in joy
to see me.
          My hands
remember fur and tongues.
I follow footprints
back to paths
where shoebox pets
were carried solemnly
out to a backyard realm
of earthworms
          and tiny mouths.
Their deaths were absorbed
          with kissing sounds
similar to whimpers
of prostitutes
on underground trains.

In this crawlspace,
you lifted my soul from poems
and embraced its swirl
          of surrender,
pulling out spines
from words and rhymes
and jamming them
into your heart, but,
          trapped in labyrinths
of a raped girlís mind,
you almost bled to death
mouthing praises
I didnít recognize,
pleading for love
in foreign languages
only my parrot,
          who died from neglect,
could translate.

Do you know—
          O dark asymmetrical
whorl of unknown—
The dam of my soul cracks open
into your endless flowing.
I veer down the infinite
drain of this universe
as it bypasses heaven,
          where hell
is a diversion route
to someone elseís explanations
          for God
                    and dying.
I turn without yield signs,
knowing no destination
or reasons to stay or leave
          save the warmth
                    of your rising flood in me.

          And every night,
my thoughts pace downward
using someone elseís feet
until the end of my knowledge
          is reached.
          For one last time,
last time,
          last time,
I take that dark frightening
bungie-cord flip
away from netscapes
keyed for the seeing
down into the furious
inner roar of being,
          clutched by Hadesí gravity.

Cottonwood leaves
          choke ditches and sewers,
gather in pools of old womenís eyes.
Tanagers fledge their young, fly south.
          Red feathers bleed from river sides.
                    You think of suicide.
Your thoughts reach in my mind.
Autumn calls my name,
I cry to my mother,
I love him!

Know, Thief,
          brief traveler
                    to surface plains
to wed my soul with yours,
that I find
all dispersed stars
          and every black hole
of my imploded self,
like a newborn galaxy
on spokes that arch
outward from your deepest
                    love of me.

CoverPrevious PoemNext Poem

2River All is well.