"Things that are distressing to see"
--The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon
The look on his mouth
wreathed in berries
a smiling sleepy cat
body turned in his chair
leaning into his teenage daughter
curly-haired, lapping it up
shutting out the mother
bitter look around her mouth
father/husband's two faces--
sensual for the daughter
blank for her mother--
a terrible thing to watch.
As if the mother gave birth
to her own younger self
('Rarus,' 'an abortive child,' or 'a womb,'
the womb of the Corn-mother
from which the corn sprang)
or the secret feminine soul
of her mate,
and he loves only her young, fresh flesh
or perhaps only himself in her, his own inner girl,
and abandons the soul of his wife.
I try to engage her in talk, about the taste of the cider,
she smiles but cannot rise
out of hell.
Kore in the poppy fields
picking the scarlet soporifics,
his chariot drawn by black horses
roaring down the chasm that opens
daughter snatched from mother, de meter,
down into his dark kingdom.
and the earth is barren;
apples do not grow,
cider does not flow.
the food of the dead.
Lord of the Underworld
knows only his own desire,
and they are both--
Kore who cries out
Demeter who rages--
The father unfolds his length, leaves
the restaurant, daughter close, they stroll
side by side along the rue Vieille du Temple.
Drained, hollow, the mother
can barely rise from her seat
and follows far behind.
I want to cry out to him.
I want to embrace her.
Who will send a message to Hades?
Who will offer the mother blessing?
Who will deliver the daughter from hell
and make the earth fruitful again?