Persephone

My therapist asked me to write a letter to you, not to send, but to put at the back of the silverware drawer.

Eventually, we hope that I stop looking for you there—
in my upside-down reflection on a spoon;

and learn to separate my body image from your body.
It has been 20 years, yet I still carry this image of you

in stepmother’s kitchen,
playing at the “Don’t touch!” stove,
by no rules about sugar;
cracking eggs, stirring batter.


Not even a sugar high could redeem this grown-up day.
There is cake in the break room, and singing:
“I really shouldn’t eat this, but” harmonized with
“You’re so thin, how did you do it?”

without her knowing,
you licked the bowl
with measured sensuality
and unconscious desire.

And there’s still something sensual about feeling the weight
of an egg in my hand, holding the threads, like the tail
of a blackhead, longer than they’re meant to be held onto;
until the white slips through my fingers,

and all that’s left is the yolk of it. The heaviest part
of letting go is accepting everything just as it is,

and waiting— for a soft boil,
you dropped your hard-
-shelled heart
and a hint of vinegar.


And I still use bitterness to cope with my cracking,
tasting for your buttermilk skin,
porous as a pancake;
its texture is impossible to reconcile.

It has been 20 years, yet I still struggle
to embrace the absoluteness of your body
becoming my body,
and hold the shell of you up to my face.

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