In January: A Chant Royal by Linda Ann Lo Schiavo

In January: A Chant Royal
Linda Ann Lo Schiavo


It’s basic January’s thirty-one.
The winter air grows bald without that touch
Of holy, bold-brimmed harvests overrun.
Gold apples underground have gone. So much
Once sweet has turned acidic, black, or bare.
Honed branches aim for birds quick in pale air
That seems fresh seeded with defeats possessed,
A storm of chords now rocking trees undressed.
Surprised by sudden chill, forget-me-nots
Desert those once loved, a Ceres now distressed
By death’s familiar turnings of a plot.


In January, Dis thinks he has won.
Infernal Hades’s harvesters so much
Exceeded expectations seers spun
For pomegranates underground. As such
Diversions of desire share his stare,
His throne-mate, pale Persephone compares
This red fruit, scrotal plump, intent unblessed,
With orchards fruited up above, suppressed
Because her mother wept, planned not, forgot
Old love untutored by a loss, depressed
By death’s familiar turnings of a plot.


Past January, fasting lasts, begun
The day Dis kidnapped Ceres’s daughter, clutched
Persephone, unwilling, from her sun,
Her mother’s surplus grace, her world re-touched
With shades of gray. No place to love in there.
It’s carne vale, farewell to flesh, she swears,
Intending slow starvation’s comfortless
Protection. Thin as a shade, she fades, digests
Nothing that’s Hades-grown… except this blot:
Six pomegranate seeds bled “no” to “yes”
By death’s familiar turnings of a plot.


It’s January still though June is done.
Spring’s miracles have slipped. Earth needs her crutch:
The structured touch of Ceres spinning sun’s
Contentment into healing greens. With much
On his agenda, Zeus thinks she’s unfair
To gods and men, sad Ceres. He declares
Some compromise is due now nonetheless.
“Return Persephone!” he orders Dis.
But pomegranate pips sweet six allot
To a husband —— a mother, too. Three win much less
By death’s familiar turnings of a plot.


The earth grows things unlike itself, outdone
By Ceres, making matches, shades touched up
On flowers partnered with her hopes full sunned,
Unlooked for love their home soil, dew-kissed luck.
Persephone plies arteries aware
Of sub-plots titled root and stem, her heirs,
That legacy of marrying success
Between what’s light and dark, spliced East and West.
Each phoenix can embrace forget-me-nots’
Returning blaze. Joy’s whys are repossessed
By death’s familiar turnings of a plot.


                         Love fortified can multiply redressed.
                         Belligerent with light, a Persephone
                         Remembers darkness, too, deserves a shot.
                         New things to love arrive although accessed
                         By death’s familiar turnings of a plot.


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