The only legend I have ever loved is
The story of a daughter lost in Hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere.
And have. As a child in exile in
A city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
An exiled child in the crackling dusk of
The underworld, the stars blighted.
Later I walked out in a summer twilight
Searching for my daughter at bedtime.
When she came running I was ready
To make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams.
And wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
Winter was in store for every leave
On every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
And the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
My child asleep beside her teen magazines,
Her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomeganate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
And ended the story and all
Or heartbroken searching, but she reached
Out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
The French sound for apple and
The noise of stone and the proof
That even in the place of death,
At the heart of the legend, in the midst
Of rocks full of unshed tears
Ready to be diamonds by the time
The story was told, a child can be
I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-colored.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are aboveground.
It is another world. But what else
Can a mother give her daughter but such
Beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
The papery, flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.
Eavan Boland talks about how all mothers go through the myth of Demeter and Persephone. She, herself went through it. First Eavan Boland was a child, lost at times, just like Persephone. Then, she became a mother, searching for her own daughter when she was lost. She knows that she must go through winter each time her child leaves the safety of her arms, because there is danger out in the world that a mother can not always protect her child from no matter how hard she tries. She wants to stop her child from experiencing pain, just like Demeter would like to stop Persephone from eating the pomegranate seed, but she can not. For children grow up, and must experience pain and joy together. One day Eavan knows that her daughter will become a mother and go through the same ordeal as she and Demeter have gone through. It is a cycle that will go on forever.