Updated: Jul 30
“So, there with angry hands she broke the ploughs that turned the soil and sent to death alike the farmer and his labouring ox, and bade the fields betray their trust, and spoilt the seeds. False lay the island's famed fertility, famous through all the world. The young crops died in the first blade, destroyed now by the rain too violent, now by the sun too strong.”
– by Ovid
Red. There are so many shades of Red.
Light as ochre pollen on your skin and deep as claret wine.
Red as seeds that pop beneath your thumbs and stain your lips with sunrise. Red like the nectar dripping sliding down your throat like glass and dribbling down to dry, sticky in the creases of your wrist. You follow the flavour down, down the soft skin of your arm to the end where you remain.
Red like candle flickers in your mind, behind closed lids and charcoal lashes brushing on your cheeks. Like the flush of exertion on your breast. Skin on skin. Red like the flower abandoned to stain the impure sheets of your ‘Marriage’ bed. Petals on silk.
Red like dying leaves and drying clay where crops once grew and now lie in rot. Blooming barren where you mother walks but does not yield. Red like blood that washes alters and prayers that go unheard beneath a mourner that you never asked to mourn.
Red like the screams of a birthing bed or the scarlet strain on a child’s face as they, unknowing, beg for food. Red as eyes where tears and milk have dried, where infants weep no more.
Ochre like pollen and deep claret on the grapes that grow in spring. Scarlet like crescent moons on palms pale from winters spent beside the Lethe. A row of four. A red like ghosts, pressed thin to pink for every summer through from spring.
Red like burning embers in you throat and in your chest that could be anger, but mostly masks regret.
I was not a child.
And she was not the only Mother Mourning.
Insp. Demeter and the Starvation of Mankind by Ovid