Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Persephone, Marooned in the Underworld

4 comments

In the grayest month of the year, lake-fog
curdled between whitepine stands, grouse burrowed
in lacy snow-caves, I let the bird from
its cage, unshackled the houseplants, undressed

the Christmas tree. The radio crackled
into dry air: carols, disaster. The snow fell
faster. Against the window the parakeet
thumped, lay stunned on the sill; still,

I kept cleaning. Clouds gouged the western
sky as a cold front pushed over the lake: graupel
and electricity. Snow fine as ash. The little heart
kept beating, panicked. Then my son woke

from his nap, plucked the bird from the sill, tucked
it beneath his arm. Gently put it back in the cage, it's

all right, it's all right, he was singing. The sky
broke apart above the white field.


Sara Quinn Rivara’s work has appeared in 32 Poems Magazine, Blackbird, Crab Orchard Review, The Cortland Review and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for inclusion in the Best New Poets anthology. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her son and teaches English, Writing and performance at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She also blogs at La Belle Dame Sans Merci.


More from



Yea!!! Persephone, finally a Mama. This so bugged me about the myth, that she remained so stuck. Reward for Demeter, reward for Hades, but the Lady HerOwnSelf? Ah, a son.
I don't the myth of Persephone, but this beautiful poem made me want to look it up. Moreover, I loved the work for its sounds. Beautiful rhymes - disaster/ faster, sill/still - in unpredictable places. Colorful verbs. And the ending - my five year old would call it "perfecto!"
Loved this! I have a poetry book about mothering coming out in April called THE POMEGRANATE PAPERS, and though it's not talked about much, in many versions of the myth, Persephone becomes a mother in the underworld. That, and the pomegranate seeds, are the reasons she has to keep going under. Great work!
Beautiful. Line breaks used to great effect.
Comments are now closed for this piece.