by Alice Godliman

Do you ever wonder about Persephone?
Bereft at the prospect of leaving her Hades,
It’s a place– did you know?
So much more than its popular male face–
Rather a home that she finally felt was hers,
Only to be dragged out by a well-meaning mother.
Maybe she counted– carefully–
Six seeds,
Looking like drops of your insides,
Or half a dozen shining jewels–
Knowing just what they meant:
An excuse to return.

Imagine Persephone
Just before she makes that existence-affirming journey
Younger than she will ever be again
More scared than she will ever be again
Asking (me) herself 15 years from now–
A conversation made possible through magic, meditation, time travel
(or a rhetorical device used for this extended metaphor)
       ‘What’s it like?’
       ‘What do you do there?’
       ‘Is it dangerous?’
       (See prejudice exists both today and then).
It is her first trip to the underworld
Before ever eating those six germinating seeds.

But this young Persephone is just a metaphor
And Hades is my queer community.
A fourteen-year-old about to go to her first Pride– she is
       Younger than she will ever be again,
       More scared than she will ever be again,
So full of fear and anticipation.
I tell her the warmth is of belonging–
       Not the hellfire promised by yellow wasps of signs striped with black hate
Instead warmth of celebration.
I warn her of those wasps–
       Creatures causing pain without purpose,
       A futilely gleeful hum of hatred,
       The summer’s sting of return.
She shrugs, as unconcerned by wasps’ agenda as appropriate.

Do you ever think about Persephone?
Finding her hidden Hades.
One. Two. Three.
Bleeding seeds ripe with potential to grow within her
A new life of escape to this warm world.
Four. Five. Six.
Shining sweet red jewels–
A promise to herself she will be back–
Rescue herself from rescue.
She will be back.

Alice Godliman | @alicefictionn
Alice is a Manchester based poet from South London who has performed spoken word in London and Manchester. As a high school English teacher she spends her time reading and writing or talking to teenagers about reading and writing. Her work is often confessional, dealing with themes of feminism, body image, and the women she has loved through the lens of mythology or superstition. 

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