was valuable in her inheritance.
Nor Hall, The Moon and the Virgin
Kneeling in the dust, I recall
the church in Enna, Sicily
where Ceres and Proserpine reigned
until a Pope kicked them out
in the mid-19th century.
This is my Hades, where I find
what the house has eaten.
”And Jessica was left with only
the raw, sheer, endless terror
of being alone in the world.”
“We are alone, Jessica,” I say aloud;
the whole box of romances must go.
I keep the photograph of the young girl
under cotton woods.
Her belly is still flat, not yet a fruit
the child shining in its membrane like a pomegranate
She ended both their lives,
and no mother’s rage
could bring her back.
I leave her with the book of fairy tales:
still safe, held fast,
in Sleeping Beauty’s bramble forest.
I could use some sleep.
What I do must be done
each day, in every season,
like a liturgy. I want to pray
to Mary Magdalene, who kept seven demons,
one for each day of the week.
How practical; how womanly.
My barren black cat rubs against my legs.
I think of the barren women
exhorted by the Good Book
to break into song:
we should sing, dear cat,
for the children who will come in our old age.
The cat doesn’t laugh,
but I do. She rolls in dust
as I finish sweeping.
I empty the washer
and gather what I need for the return:
the basket of clothes
and bag of clothes-pins,
a worn spring jacket in need of mending.
Then I head upstairs, singing an old hymn.