Avatar photo

Persephone After

True, the first time I went willingly. What girl
could resist his leather pants

and rock star swagger,  switchblade
in his pocket, my name

quivering between his lips? How better
to escape Mom’s pretty vines

than to sway in a poured-on miniskirt
across hell’s endless

dance floor while stretched skin
drums throbbed? My gut burned from pomegranate

juice and vodka. The goth house band keened.
Match light flickered on his skull ring

as he whispered smoky promises and blackened
bottoms of bent spoons. His touch

wiped out every ache or question.
My straight-A vocabulary whittled down to more.

Soon my dependence
angered him. He gestured

at my puffy eyes and flat hair.
Turned away with a slap.

Mother hauled me home.
A month in rehab, then a shopping spree

for high-necked shirts and
frilly dresses. Good-girl life

to slip back into like the cloak
I dropped on my way down.

Triggered by a song,
a whiff of sulfur —

in any season, broken
ground inside me opens. Memory

drags me back.
Put off by my pink

cheeks and filled-out limbs, the shades
won’t know me now.

I try to tell my mother what I saw there.
How I lived. All that’s over. Let it go.

My friends steer the conversation
back to hair styles and food.


  1. Greg Roll on

    Honest is what comes to mind with accessible imagery and moving emotional content. I loved the line “My straight-A vocabulary whittled down to more.” I think in the end we are all ready to put away the orchestra in exchange for the all-consuming, one-note vibe that washes us away in bliss.

Join the conversation