persephone_ariel
INTERVIEW WITH PERSEPHONE
by Stephanie Barbé Hammer

Our viewers are curious — Are you actually dead?
Yes, I’m the dead one.
But not always. It’s complicated. See — he abducted me, which is —
     I know —
Frowned upon but it’s like 50 Shades:
He’s important, rich and yes, he’s unbearably handsome.
So I had to stay.

And not only that…
True, I made it legal.

How did you feel when it didn’t stick?
Disappointed.
Relieved.
I mean it’s one thing to
visit the underworld, all those chic svelte souls but it’s quite another to
live there. Maintain that vast residence. All those ghostly
servants. And he’s a tiring person.

So it got to you.
Well it got to my mother, who as you know is a real force in
the nature industry. She just…

Missed you?
That s putting it mildly

Laughter

So now you have this arrangement?
Yes — it’s a win-win for everyone I think. I’m with him — you know — some of the
time and I’m back here managing the
crops and the seasons with mom the rest of the
year.

What about making time for you? What would you tell the women
at home torn between
family obligations, giving so much to
everyone: job, cooking, hubby, kids, and
community?
Well I wouldn’t say it’s not
a struggle. It helps that my husband’s
parents — well let’s just say they aren’t in
the picture. And we don’t
have kids —
Still it’s hard to find a moment for a facial or
for and kind of personal
reflection.

Any final advice for our viewers?
Snacking really does
have repercussions. Don’t eat unless you have to.
Perhaps not even then.
And remember
not to love those who violate you. It sounds like a no brainer, but actually
It’s quite
surprisingly
Hard.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  When I was a child, I saw a cartoon version of the “Abduction of Persephone.” I was home alone. I shuddered but never forgot it. It both scared and fascinated me. I keep on encountering this Greek myth in film, in tv, and even in discussions of femininity, feminism, and the unconscious. These days I wonder about the following: must mothers always be hell-bent on staying connected to their daughters in the most visceral possible way – at the cost of killing the outside world to get it? Must daughters always remain torn between their spouse/lover and their parental obligations? I think, many women are struggling to tell a different story there…As a daughter and as a mother of an adult daughter I know I am. But I don’t think we’ll be able to tell that new story, til we’ve fully understood this old one. I’m not sure this poetic thought experiment gave me an answer, but it opened the story up for me in a way that feels exciting.

IMAGE: “Persephone” by Patricia Ariel. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

sb_hammer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Descended from Norwegian plumbers on one side, and bohemian Russian aristocrats on the other, Stephanie Barbé Hammer has published short fiction in The Bellevue Literary Review, Pearl, NYCBigCityLit, and the Hayden’s Ferry Review among other places. A four-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Stephanie is also a nonfiction writer and poet; her prose poem chapbook Sex with Buildings, appeared with Dancing Girl Press in 2012 and a full-length collection How Formal? was published in Spring 2014 with Spout Hill Press. Her novel The Puppet Turners of Narrow Interior is forthcoming with Urban Farmhouse Press. Stephanie divides her time between Los Angeles and Coupeville Washington.