first descent

long journey down to the river

through the wilderness

crossing to the other shore Hades offers her

a pomegranate cut open

six rays of shining seeds

she touches a few ruby drops to her lips

swallows them without hesitation

Hades takes her arm and leads her

toward a mountain ablaze with fire

she tries to pull away

gaze at it directly with clear intent

as she does the fire recedes into the mountainside

trees and shrubs in full leaf cover its face

then Hades takes her to a lake with islands of ice

step into the water

with less fear this time she moves forward

the ice melts into islands of green

a creature rises from the water

with large bat-like wings and scowling face

she lurches back and the creature says in Hades’ voice

do not hate or fear me Persephone

gaze fully at my face   she follows his command

the creature subsides into Hades

with gentle countenance and kindly eyes

now you know the secret 

you can bring into sunlight

the first tender cotyledons

from seeds long buried

in the heart’s winter

Fran Isaacs Gilmore is a retired industrial hygienist and teacher. She writes health and safety articles for a teachers union, teaches a class in emotional healing in a state prison, and teaches yoga and meditation to people in recovery. She volunteers as a docent in a local park, and is an avid birder. She lives near Philadelphia with her husband and two cats. Her poetry has been published in numero.

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