“Persephone Returns”, by laura k kerr

A cento in homage of Robin Coste Lewis’s Voyage of the Sable Venus


I am not sitting in your lap.


Your fishhook fingers are not

toddling my birdseed nipples

over and over again.


Your other hand is not digging inside

my brand-new Friday panties

Aunt Lydia just gave me.


Into the barbed nectar of this story

I have stared my whole life.

Because memory—

not gravity—

pins us to this trembling.


For years, my whole body

ran away from me.

When I flew—


through the air,

my ankles and toes

fell off onto the peaks

of impassable mountains.


My head’s a ticker tape of garbage,

I can’t feel a thing,

and I am terrified.

(Most days, I don’t know

what I am.)


That day, I climbed up

into the air and could not

climb back down

until now. Then

tears so slow

they never fell.


The world wants to know

what I am made of.

I am trying to find a way

to answer Her.


Life is giving birth

in the middle of

a warm dark road.

Not mist, but a whole

cloud passes into

one window, then

two hours later,

out the other.


But then I think, perhaps

embodiment is so bewildering,

even God grows wracked

with doubt.


Every mountaintop made

holy by the falling charred

body part of the Goddess.


Why did it take all that?