Persephone Sets the Record
Straight By Shara McCallum from The Year's
Best Fantasy and Horror Tenth Annual Collection
You are all the rage these days,
mother. Everywhere I turn, I hear
Demeter in mourning, Demeter
Always craving the spotlight,
I know this is what you wanted:
your face on the front page
of all the papers; gossip
columns filled with juicy tidbits
on what life was like before winter,
old hags in the grocery store, whispering,
how she’s letting the flowers go,
while the young women hover
in their gardens, fearing their hibiscus
will be next on your hit list.
After all these summers,
you still won’t come clean.
Passing me iced tea, instead
you ask, how’s the redecorating?
are you expanding
to make room for little ones?
Fanning away flies,
you avoid my eyes, saying,
I’ve so longed to be a grandma,
For God’s sake, mother,
can’t you just tell me the truth now it’s done?
Just once, tell me.
How you put me in that field
knowing he’d come,
that you made the snow fall
everywhere to cover your tracks,
that the leaves die still
because you can’t punish him
for confirming your suspicions:
not wanting you,
he took me instead.
Of course I ate those seeds.
Who wouldn’t exchange
one hell for another?
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