Thursday, December 19, 2013



It might be best if I didn’t pretend to know,
or to understand the old stories of the underworld
while I talk with these small children who share with me
the seeds of this season’s first open pomegranate.

Persephone and Hades. A young goddess out gathering? Wandering?
Willful? Bewildered? And how many seeds was it? Four? Six?


But when we come to the ridge over a shaded draw, low in the foothills,
mined out generations ago and heaped up in old tailings, they run
down this frozen path into the “underworld,” as they call it, choosing
to improvise the details, explaining that “in the underworld people wear underwear,

of course.” There are black sticks to find, still-green moss to prod.
And the path finally disappears in the stones up the creek bed.


And when one cold early morning, I am caught staring into maps
of other places—Yuba River, Whidbey Island, Buenaventura
—they come asking to see and to know. Where? Why?
At breakfast, I open them the jeweled chambers of another one:

A pagan sacrament, shipped in from some distant orchard.
Scattering the seeds across the table, one says to the other
“Let’s eat lots of these! So we can stay here a long time.”

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