Demeter in the Overworld by Cameron Clark

Demeter in the Overworld

Pray for my daughter:
for Charon’s dipped oars in the obsidian of forgetting:
for a girl’s half-expectant face.

. . . Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: old god, awash
in winter
and diesel smoke
in a high street swarmed
with graystained voices and gray
coats, wearing her waiting buttoned
to the throat,
on the other shore
of the road’s harsh
and catalytic sea.

Some woman’s face, you think,
one more mother
among the press
of the street; unremarkable as the missing
posters that mar
the symmetry of brick.

So you walk
on because the sun
is already shallow
in the sky; you have no
time to stop or help or pray.

Pray, gods. For the mother:
for the trees crouched uselessly above her:
for these last ice-bitten lilies of the valley hanging their heads.

by Cameron Clark

Editor’s Note: In this poem, the juxtaposition of old myth with modern life creates an dichotomy that vibrates between nostalgia and yearning.