Jan/Feb 2013 Poetry Special Feature

Hades, Hermes, and Persephone in Fullerton Hall

by Jennifer Finstrom

Hades, Hermes, and Persephone in Fullerton Hall

"Word Outleaps the World": Readings and Dance, The Art Institute of Chicago

He looks the part: dark hair that's a little
long, taller than the other man who dances
the role of Hermes bringing her back
to the sunlit meadow. Though we in the audience
do not see the pale narcissi and other flowers,
it is easy to imagine them blooming on the bare
stage. In the same way, we imagine
the earth splitting open, consenting
to invite her into its numerous dark rooms.

Earlier in the performance, these same two
had been Hector and Achilles, struggling
together with the death between them, the dark
one left, at last, on the floor of the stage.
And I can't forget a moment that happened
before they became the Lord of the Underworld
and the Messenger of Olympus, when the woman
who was Persephone was just a dancer.
As he passed behind her, the man who would become
Hades reached out a familiar hand, unseen
by most of the audience, and pulled down
the woman's black lace top—where it had slid
up—to cover the revealed inch of skin.

Moments later, the three are navigating the long
winter road: dancing blizzard, dearth, and famine,
the death of seeds in the cold earth.
Some invisible mineral binds them to each other.
In this way she is called back each year,
whether she has learned to love him or not.


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