Every time I come up for air, I shovel
fistfuls of the sky into my mouth: the blue azure
berry wonderlands, tasting like superman sherbet tinctures
until they fade to nothing, climbing down my throat
to join the oceans behind my navel. When
I am done, there is a smear of sticky sweet
spread across my lips in post-hunger, turquoise afterglow –
and Hades knows where I have been:
and that is what happens on good days.
On bad days, I choke on the soot smut effluence
of steel mill towns, bear the rain’s weeping upon my back
until the weight of its water sorrow tear my robes
off my body, and suffocate in the wake
of Pele’s black smoke rage: then, I fall back to earth,
wing torn, while Icarus weeps at the sight of
my fall. Then, Hades still knows where I have been,
and I return, bracelet chained, consigned to be
a shadow. The sky follows me with her single eye,
sorry once again to see me go.
How do I wash the ashen dirt of those days
out of my teeth? I can drink more oceans,
choke down the wine of the Styx until my belly
becomes numb once again and I forget who
I was. And I wait for the sky to disrobe again and show her
unclouded nakedness, my pupils open-mouthed
and holding back my envy. Then, I rise again, dig my hands in,
and take handfuls of sky love like a vacant-bellied woman who
has never seen death but has only seen springtime,
hungry and erupting in loud, vibrant, virgin births out of
The worst days are when the Martians invade – those days,
I choke down green flesh, green fear, and
skies littered with vapid, pale bone horsemen
and meteors of screaming red angry that rip
the chords out of my throat. There is a man
on a lonely Greek island who dreamed of eating a book:
some days, I eat the images in that book
painted across our skies by nonsense-makers wearing
tin foil hats.
But not today. I land on a cumulus and
launch myself from its soft stomach in trampoline madness. I
grab more handfuls of azure, cram them into my
open mouth, and let the blessed blue drip
down my chin. I am greedy and Sapphic, drunk and lusty-eyed
like my pupils cannot hold enough wine. Fuck Hades:
I will have this happiness one more time.
© 2012 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem was written for We Write Poems Prompt #95 — the Other Side of Nature. We were asked to describe an aspect of nature, and “the challenge is to use terms not the usual or obvious for that subject”.
This ended up being another one in the “Goddess” series — this time I chose the mask of Persephone, the Greek goddess of the underworld. I chose Persephone to represent the part of me that is vulnerable, is most woundable, has been sheltered, and in the past was a bit naive. Persephone represents what is hidden that the tougher parts of me (i.e. those represented for example by Pele or the Morrígan) try to protect or conceal because unfortunately, this has been the aspect of me most abused and taken advantage of. When one considers that Persephone was abducted by Hades, raped, and then tricked into spending a third (or half, depending on whose mythology you read) of her life in the underworld, I think choosing her for this aspect of me is rather appropriate.
Anyway. I hope you enjoyed the poem.