Once, when your eyes were dazzled by a blanket of blue mist, he showed you it was sea holly, a whole colony whose thistle-like leaves had changed from green to blue. Another time, when you came across a field of chasteberry, he told you the legend that it cools the heat of lust, that women would use it as bedding during the festival for Demeter and Persephone. And thus began his giving you an education in Greek mythology, and thus began your passion for Persephone. You would go on to read Hesiod’s Theogony, you would go on to read the ‘Hymn to Demeter’ in The Homeric Hymns. What was it about that homeless girl, fated to ferry between two worlds, that appealed to you so? Was it her being an abandoned child, ravished and left on the cusp of girlhood, forever ambivalent toward her mother? Was it her descent into a secret world, her encounters on the boundary crossing? Or was it simply her blending of sexuality and play? Whatever it was, she provided you with a mirror to reflect on yourself. Is that why you consider Persephone your sister?
Do not swallow the pomegranate seed: On your pyjamas an owl stares out from her domain of darkness.
̶ The orphanage—when did he get out of it?
̶ When he turned sixteen. 1958. He was already an exceptional athlete; they saw his promise. Rome was 1960, Tokyo 1964.
̶ And when exactly did you find out about…
̶ All those horrible things?
̶ Just before we got married. One night, after we’d made love—
̶ How do you think you were conceived?
̶ All right, all right.
̶ One night, after we’d made love, he just started crying. Crying and crying and crying. And then it all came out…
Too late, too late, the owl has seen me swallow: Never shall I escape for long now into the light of day… Warm, warm, your tears flow, across the icy surface of history, trying to find a river to take you to the sea.