From my epic, now titled ‘The Rag and Boneyard’

Continuing from yesterday…

Canto 6

At nine o’clock, after fuming
three hours, Demeter
began her baking.
The kneading of dough,
the warm, tactile physics
of mixing has ever been
her method for regaining control

of herself, her emotions.
The violent appetites of yeast provide
her with a rare clarity of thought
unfound in any other context.
She pummeled the flesh-like
wheat-loaves as though they were
her husband’s pale throat
or soft round testicles.

Now, six full hours beyond
her daughter’s abduction
she sits in the warm hell
of her kitchen, surrounded
by wood smoke from the stove
and the smell of her baking.

She has lit an oil-fueled storm
lamp, placed in the scared centre
of the century-old table she salvaged
from her parents Georgian home
amidst bowls brimming with water, egg
-yolk, salt, the sacred elements of earth.

Her hands are on her shears again;
remembering her mother.
That old woman who held Sabbaths
in the darkness, clad in white
moonlight and the entrails
of hung dogs draped in pink folds
around her scrawny neck. Old Hecate

killed her husband Ouranus after he married
off Demeter, and there was no denying it.
Although she was miles away from town
when his heart burst in the bourbon-
scented library of his men’s club,
that huge body falling, blue-faced,
among the legs of whores and
the thick tobacco clouds to thunder
in death, shattering the floorboards.

Her body was cold
when they found her,
half eaten by dogs
who never feared cannibalism.
The living curs ate also
her bloody drapings, consuming
even the fluid stained mud.

Well, Demeter thinks, eyes locked
on lamp locked flame-dancing.
When the time comes to turn
to using the deep magic
there is always a cost.

Revenge always backfires
after hitting the mark.
Old Hecate killed her father,
but could not save Demeter.
Now, an Old Mother herself,
she thinks, I shall have to act
more carefully when I try it myself.

She turns the sharp-edged shears
to catch the hue of firelight.
There are other ways, always,
to get what I want. She thinks,
That gun-toting bastard.
Back in a few hours.

To discuss an abduction,
a meant threat, like adults.
As though a man would sell his flesh
like beef-steak. A white-haired
boy is all he is, if not much less.
And I will have my vengeance.

But for now the loaves
are burning, and she could never
stand for that. These burnt grains
are also, in their minor ways,
her daughters. And it is time
to fetch them out.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on May 20, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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