Hades Rising from a Cleft in the Earth
by Paula J. Lambert

Hades came to claim a wife.
He had that right.
A woman turned her back
on a child, and lost her.
It happens, that sort of thing,
when flowers are blooming.
Children leave.
And selfish grief—
all that gnashing and keening—
leads the world to believe
you want them to starve.
Children, not knowing the rules,
will eat where food is offered.
What the girl-child did
was only this:
she buried a seed in her belly.
What was that but cause for celebration?
It took Hades
rising from that cleft in the earth
to teach a mother to let go,
to give things time to rest,
to remind that simple, faraway sun
that even he must set
to rise again.
The lesson is this:
A cleft is always a wound.
Wounds heal
though opened again and again.
That’s the loveliness of wounds
what they offer
what they forgive
what they call young lovers to do.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a reinterpretation of the story of Demeter and Persephone; I suppose here I want only to say that young women have a right to make their way in the world however they see fit, and that there’s no tragedy in that. That love and romance, marriage, childrearing, are all lovely and valid choices . . . and that love of all kinds involves wounded hearts, which is itself not such a bad thing. I hope the poem says this: We grow.

IMAGE: “Demeter Mourning Persephone” by Evelyn de Morgan (1906).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert is the author of The Sudden Seduction of Gravity (Full/Crescent Press, 2012) and The Guilt That Gathers (Pudding House, 2009). A residency artist for the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program, she has published her work in numerous journals and anthologies. She is a past recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship and was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her MFA is from Bowling Green State University. Lambert currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband Michael Perkins, with whom she operates Full/Crescent Press, a small but growing independent publisher of poetry books and broadsides.