Fall 2017 / Featured / Poetry / Poetry 2017 / Uncategorized / Volume 48

Becoming Persephone —Mary Ann Honaker

We’d sprayed gold paint into paper bags

and huffed the fumes.  Detached from body,


self a phosphorescent bubble ahover in some

bright-colored world, somewhere askance


from here.  My boyfriend passed out.

Sometimes, when one says love, she means


A sour drink that tastes better than loneliness

or the door that leads out of myself.


I’d started young on some ill-trodden

overgrown path, one with No Trespassing


and Beware and At Your Own Risk

sprinkled along the borders like flowers.


Love was so big, right?  Yet everyone

claimed they were in it.  One day


walking through the halls of Park Junior High

I saw a wild-haired girl with the same smashed glamor


as Courtney Love, wearing a shirt that said,

If I can’t find Love, I’ll settle for Lust.


The word love was in a smarmy, flowery script.

The word lust burned with pain.  It seared


like something real.  I’d found my philosophy.


Many miles down my coyote-smitten, wild

tiger lily-ridden path of lust I was walking


into the school cafeteria and saw you. I dropped

all my books.  Just like nothing special


it had happened: I’d stumbled onto Love.


You sat beside me on the couch and somehow

with nothing much said we were suddenly kissing.


You stopped to say I love you.  You need to understand

I wouldn’t remember this for a year.  The golden fumes


plucked us free from chronology, from history.

I said I loved my boyfriend.  I will never know why.


Next thing you’re on the porch swinging your legs,

back to us, pouting, saying Fuck you to every entreaty.


I sat in your friend’s lap and he said  Do you want

to fuck him?  I said yes and at least that was true.


She says she wants to fuck you buddy! he yelled

out to the porch and then I don’t know what, it isn’t clear,


I was waking up, being jerked about violently,

I didn’t know where I was, I realized I was being fucked


so I called out my boyfriend’s name.  Suddenly a hand

slapped me, covered my mouth, and there you were,


menacing, angry, hair about you like a patch of briars

saying, Look who is fucking you now, bitch!


I think I realized I loved you one day in your car.

We were all laughing and it was summer, so bright,


sunlight was glazing the windshield in stripes.

Suddenly I felt very blessed so blessed and I knew


this was about being with you.


Once a health and nutrition teacher told us

that there is no love like your first love,


that you will grow up and love others and get married

but you’ll always remember the first one.


And the class bullies laughed and made fun

when he said they were still close friends.


Ye gods it was not meant to be like this.


Some days I still fantasize we run into each other

in a bar or Walmart or at the mall and it takes a moment


before we recognize one another.  We mist over

that night or we don’t mention it at all.


We go out we have drinks we decide on – not fall into–

loving, and with caresses simple and gentle we undo


the night with the gold paint, we make it right somehow,

and it doesn’t matter what happens next because then


it is fixed.  I am fixed.  You are fixed. We are normal

people again, like we should have been all along.


Of course this will never happen.  All that can happen

is for me to have the courage to finally be


my hearthstone, my guidepost, my goddess Persephone–

holding Spring in one hand, Hell in the other–

Saying, you were my first love.  You raped me.

Yet, underneath the fury, I still love you.  

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