Persephone's Mask by Tara Avery
In this realm of shallow, torpid chill,
far from the flutter of angel's wings
each finger can move.
I can pull the ring off my finger,
I can toss it to the ground.
Of its own indifferent accord,
my foot crushes it.
It is only copper and glass;
sparkling beams of refracted light
blind me --
bind me in dreams of innocence.
There is no emotion here,
in the empty realm behind the paper-thin mask.
Ribbons blow and tangle in my hair,
wrap around my neck,
choking with long, silky fingers.
To free myself I must cast aside my mask.
But I cannot,
for the mask hides my ugliness --
and to cast away the beauty
would banish me forever from the masquerade.
I would be alone.
Alone, with a mass of crumpled silk
and tattered ribbons crushed in my hand.
I cannot.
The ribbons choke me,
choking . . .
and no one sees because my porcelain face
has a painted, pretty pout.
People see it as a smile,
ignoring the visible crystal drops
that hide at the very corner
of my dark blue;
haunted blue;
night-sky blue eyes.
I have the eyes of Persephone
who has already eaten the pomegranate
and the seeds are cold,
leaden within her belly.
From the depths of Hades
I can see the earth draped in snow.
I will not sip the water of Lethe.
I will not forget.
The question:
What do I have left to remember?
A mask,
cool and crumpled beneath fingers
I have only now remembered how to use
and I find that I am more alone now
that I ever dared fear before.
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