Bio Note: I had a manuscript accepted (after a dozen tries) from Dancing Girl Press and I am very happy to say it will be out in November or December. It is titled Zeus's Wives & Other Goddesses."Fruit of the Dead" was published in my first book, Luna.
Persephone and Demeter,
Fruit of the Dead
The only story I ever believed in was my own. The only disguise I took was an old hag, crone-breathed and foul, and now it has abducted me. When I leave my gowns and veils I turn into what I blithely imitated. I am fully realized. I am a daughter traveling the fires, I am a mother redeeming myself in corn. I have become my own story, I left it and pieced it together as it needed us to change. I was the victim of rape. I was lusted after, blackmailed, left for dead. As a daughter roaming the world, I wept for a mother sorely missed, raising the flowers as she had, never leaving a city window unadorned, without a box full of geraniums to tend. I was a mother forsaken, I searched for her among the starfish, behind the sandy dunes all the way to Provincetown and back. This earth has no use for mysteries. When I finally caught her in my arms, a butterfly needing no net, I bargained with the lilacs, the heart-shaped leaves, the bees to let her be mine, be me, grow up safe. Oh, but you will know the end to this story. Winter was waiting for us as certain as each wishing star would tumble, would hide itself away from our greedy eyes. She was borrowed, same as I was to make this tale complete. After all that heartache, after searching the world for each other, it was another apple that tempted her, not the one Eve took, but one all women share in the end. It was the one that stains our mouths red, that bruises our lips like love. Why shock you with the details of my own failures? Why confuse your mind with bestiality, how I sucked sweet water in a cave. Food and drink are all we need to survive. Children are hungry, mothers we feed them. We suckle them to our breasts, crush rocks into diamonds along the Milky Way. Our futures are emblazoned in winter stars. All that tension, all that explosive passion. I am old. I am young. I am her story, I am mine. I tell you this tale my way, not hers, I can never tell it to you perfectly or repeat it exactly the same. We are equal, through different eyes. Tonight, I shall read to her from this journal and tomorrow she will read it back from hers to me. Spring will one day return for us, this is our only guarantee.
Originally published in Luna Aldrich Press, 2015
©2022 Laurie Byro
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