Between the sixth and seventh grade, you go from being
cave-dark ugly to stop-the-chariot beautiful.
It’s one of those summer vacation transformations that everyone is talking about.
Your history is awkward, hard to explain to friends.
Your mother is also your grandmother.
Your father Zeus raped his mother Demeter to make you.
And you have this one memory you never talk about—
your father as a snake wrapping his coils around your child body,
whispering something you can’t remember in your ear.
The memory is all white light—the color of your skin, your dress, and your confusion.
The abduction is speedy and planned.
It happens in a ravine so fragrant that your dog loses your scent,
and forgets that he’s supposed to protect you.
You’re looking at a flower that you’re convinced is looking back at you.
The ravine splits and you cry out as you look your new husband in the eyes.
His horses are monstrous, snorting, and loud.
He tells you what an honor it is to be Queen of the Dead.
You know you have no choice.
You already belong to him.
The chariot is mirrored inside, so on the way down you see only yourself.
You are a good girl and a good student.
You wish you had picked that flower that was looking back at you.
You already miss your mother.
The dead love the way your blood moves underneath the surface of your skin.
He offers you a glass of pomegranate juice and an ornate, hard throne.
He says you can go back after you drink the juice.
Unaware that you’ve made the human mistake of eating.
It’s sticky and dribbles down your chin.
There are seeds in it.
This is the story of marriage to an older man.
Now you’ll move back and forth between worlds: queen and daughter,
woman and girl, winter and summer.
You are the light underground looking up.
You are the seeds you ate and the boredom of all middles.
You are spring and reunion.
You are distraction, freedom, and the force of return.