Saturday, December 5, 2009

finding snow


He is drawn by scented beauty,

And it is among soft roses that he finds her,

Following her sweet song, a melody

Half-remembered from some ancient time

When someone might have loved him.

It carries on the wind, and he, his black heart breaking,

Feels passion’s heat crack the ice that holds him,

So that he spurs his sable steeds through the flowery field

To scoop her up, rending her skirt as he grabs her,

Sending buds and stems flowing behind them

As they streak to the maw of the cave.


It is the sunrise

That she misses most.

These days, it’s bitter dark

As far as she can see.

Through endless days and nights

She’s lost her count of suns missed

Here in the belly of the earth.

When she squints she thinks

She can almost see

Green land, valleys and streams,

But she knows all along

That the horizon is above her

And the moon that hangs

Over sweet smelling fields

Cannot pierce the depths

Of this dark and silent world.


Somewhere again,

The goddess is arrested --

A shriek borne on the wind,

An echo of old fear,

And her mother’s heart

Races faster than her feet

As she crosses the land

To seek her missing child.

What is this fabric caught on thorns?

What marks on this burned path?

Forsaking fields and flowers,

Leaving grain to rot on stems

And grapes to shrink on vines,

She paces her great grief,

Deranged and vanquished

By the darkness where she cannot go,

And we, without her bounty,

Fall into famine, searching for succor

And finding only snow.


  1. Wow, this gave me chills! How you went from pomegranate seeds to an underworld journey! I love to see how people connect things. Your inspiration is always far reaching and deep, and so moving. Perfect for winter. Perfect for the inward journey that this time of year leaves us in. It went even deeper when I saw your labels and understood the mythology behind it, but even without the labels, the depth of the inward journey, which is never ever easy, is evident and beautifully rendered. I can really relate to this, it felt so much like this to me last summer. Not winter I know, but inside it was. So these really spoke to me:

    But she knows all along

    That the horizon is above her

    And the moon that hangs

    Over sweet smelling fields

    Cannot pierce the depths

    Of this dark and silent world.

  2. Love this Karen. Love the journey and the taking of it. Love it though my own black heart will never crack again.

  3. An Old Story

    You teller of myth,
    inconsolable goddess,
    bringer of winter -
    the ice enters me
    that I too would steal your love
    to keep here below
    I am no better
    than the old black god, older
    than all my sand.

  4. Excellent interpretation of the myth... I like your approach to the first stanza especially, and the ending as well. Awesome. :)

  5. I see by your tags that it is mythology from which this springs, but I can't help envisioning both "The Faerie Queen" and "The Lord of the Rings".
    A fantastic world with heights of emotion brought down to the depths of despair. Wow!!!

    I loved every word!

    Is that a pomegranate? Is that how they grow?


  6. Karen, I have a beautiful painting of Persephone in my bathroom, of all places. Your version of this legend is the most beautiful one I have ever read. It is everything I want to know. Once I wrote about the mother goddess who launched the world into ice in her mad grief, and I went to read that poem right now. Yours is more satisfying beyond words. What a great way to begin my day on this world, teetering on the edge of one deranged mother's grief. Strangely enough, your poem leaves me deeply at peace.

  7. The Demeter/Persephone myth has such deep roots, & this is an excellent poetic adaptation. A good job of compressing the narrative into three distinct sections.

  8. "And we, without her bounty,

    fall into famine, searching for succor

    and finding only snow."

    I have said this line to my self quite a few times after reading this. I keep coming back to it and so decided to comment. This is one of the most beautiful and poignant lines I have read in many years. Thank you.

  9. Karen, look at this! I insist you stop all unwarrented self criticism, this instant. You are a gown up poet and that's all there is to that. You told the myth in such a way that people got it without knowing the myth well enough to know what you did. You told it well enough that those who know the myth found no fault. You inspired me into my own small tale on myself. Lordy. You hit it out of the park this time. You did that with the deer poem too. So what if you don't achieve this level all the time. Who does? Betcha Billy Collins doesn't like all his work either. And then the next step, just because you don't like a poem you wrote doesn't mean in some cases that it won't still be a masterpiece. Sometimes we see you better than you do. :)

  10. Cat - Winter with its icy mien provides so much inspiration. It's literally and metaphorically rich. I do love the myth of its beginnings, but I know that we can feel this coldness in any season. Thanks for your comments, dear Cat.

    TWM - I have a feeling your heart is much softer than you care to admit, my friend!

    Christopher - Your poem makes me remember how much I've missed you! Then you come back to chastise me! :-) I didn't realize I came across as so unsure of myself, although I am not being falsely modest or self-effacing. I value the comments and opinions of my blogging friends, but I often fear that people are just being nice! I promise not to kick myself around anymore. And, Christopher, you can't know how very happy your comments make me. xxoxoxo

    Joseph - Thanks. Today was a perfect day for this, as we had the first snow of the season this morning. It was sort of fun trying to show the three points of view.

    Kat - Yes, that's a pomegranate, and yes, that's how they grow. I love the myth of Persephone/Demeter, and of course, the pomegranate (to blame, to blame).

    Chris - Isn't it interesting how we are drawn to certain persons from myth and legend? I wonder why? Thanks for your kind words, dear friend.

    John - Thanks!

    KGT - I'm smiling ear to ear. Thanks.

    Christopher - Mwah! (That's a kiss I threw across Cyberspace!)

  11. Karen, btw: can you update my link on your sidebar? I think for it to work properly, you may need to use The WAWPP link is no longer active.

  12. Karen, my friend, my statement, if you read it carefully was generic and did not measure at all how much you might be critical of your own work. I just told you to quit it, whether you were heavy or light on yourself because you have no need of it any longer. The eye of your craft is sufficient now to see itself, and the words and forms will speak to you now, say more this, less that, strike that, even start over. It's no longer personal at all. In this way poetry will be a dialogue, will answer you back. You've made the cut.

  13. 'Half remembered from some ancient time
    when someone might have loved him'...nice lines!

  14. Karen...friend I hear that more often than I would like. Yet when them that know me need an unbreakable heart mine is the first one come to for solace.

  15. Christopher - I understand. You're speaking of a moving beyond. These days at work, I hear (too often) people say, "It is what it is." I think in some ways that can apply here, too.

    rallentanda - Welcome, and thank you.

    TWM - I can see that, too - strong at the same time. Unsurprised, unperturbed. I think you'd be the one to turn to.

  16. I really think this is surpassing the previous best that I have seen of your work. I shall have to come back for another read, though.

  17. Hi Karen,

    I found myself so involved, beautiful story telling. I find myself often looking for the sky above and so often find it here.

    Thank you)

  18. Karen- This deserves a better read than I gave it. I don't want to miss anything so I'll come back later. Damn, it's good. ~rick

  19. wonderful interpretation and telling of the myth...

  20. Much enjoyed, Karen...and the photo is cool too. thanks!

  21. This is a beauty, Karen. Loved it in its entirety but was especially drawn to these words: "Somewhere again,
    The goddess is arrested --
    A shriek borne on the wind,
    An echo of old fear,"...

    This completely engages and I so love to read you, Karen! Honestly, you've such a richness to your writing.

  22. Dave - Thank you, and I hope you like it second time around!

    Sarah - Your comment is a good reminder that so often we spend time looking elsewhere for what we have right at home.

    Rick - See ya! :-)

    Crafty Green - Thanks. I'll have to go back to RWP now and read the other takes on this.

    Liz - Welcome, and thank you.

    Calli - You always say the nicest things! Thank you.

  23. You have shown us the reality of the myth, and the fear we all hold in the mother's heart of us. Another triumph!

  24. Hi
    I especially like your take on Hades, but the scrap of fabric is a very nice touch.

  25. My gosh, Karen, this is such a beauty, such an incredible feat of words and reinvention. You have written each part with such an empathy of feeling, and perceived each perspective from its heart. How did you make my soul ache for Hades so? While also feeling a mother's searching terror and grief.

    What a perfect poem, as we head into the maw of winter's cave. I'd point out favorite lines, but I might as well cut and paste the entirety!

  26. If not read already you must MUST read the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan!

    Hades has always been my fav. of the three sons of Kronos. Loved it through and through.

  27. I like this re-imagining of the old myth. To dig deeper into their hearts. That cave has no solace.

  28. Kaye - (To e or not to e?) he, he! Thanks.

    briarcat - Welcome, and thanks.

    Sarah - I just wanted to burrow down in my own little cave this weekend with the winter preview we had! Your comment reminds me how grateful I am to have found this blogging community we share. It's like receiving a gift everytime we talk to one another. Thanks for this one.

    Ani - Now I'll have to look that up! I think I've heard you reference it before. Thanks.

    jason - I like looking at it from all perspectives, and you're right, no one found any solace in this.

  29. Wow and double wow!! No, I'll make that a triple. Karen, this is so beautiful and lyrical. I love the story, of course, and you tell it in such a wonderful way. There's that gorgeous voice of yours again. I do love it.

    It's awesome how the lines in Part I flow into Part II, which is also excellent. I love the change of lines there, too. And how these leap out at me:
    "Through endless days and nights
    She’s lost her count of suns missed
    Here in the belly of the earth."

    There are so many lines that jump out, though. Part III is just awesome. I love that last line.

    Another thing I really enjoy about the poem is that it gives me layers of meaning. For me, it could be the myth...or it could be about people in this world.

  30. this is, as has been said, a magnificent eye to an ancinet story - lyrical and beautiful and aching and one of those poems that a reader can totally sink into.

    i had to reaquaint myself with the story after reading this, which is when the pomegranate image clicked - and i so love when a poem continues to unfold after i've read it. i also love how the sorrows build on each other, each one born from loss - cyclical, like the seasons - which opens this up even more.

    amazing work.

  31. Yeah. I always do whenever greek mythology comes up. :)

    Its YA Fiction but am sure you'll still love it. Don't you wanna know what the gods and the monsters are doing in the 20th century? :P

  32. All becomes known, "...She paces her great grief,..." and so a sigh, silence, snow...

    So very well done dear Karen.

  33. Admirable piece... i'm in awe...!!!:)

    >God Bless and Happy Holidays!!!:)


  34. Julie - I love the stories of the gods for what they show us about ourselves and our very human feelings and for the way they exemplify human frailty. Thanks!

    joaquin - If this made you think, feel, and seek, what could be better than that? Thank you!

    Aniket - Unfortunately, I think I can see the evidence of what the monsters are doing in our times; the gods, not so much!

    Rose Marie - You've pulled a line that points out the mother's view, one we can so fully understand. Thank you!

    Kelvin - Happy holiday to you, too, and thanks for your very nice comment.

  35. I had to think of a seed waiting the winter out in the dark ground...

    My heart froze at these images... a sign that your talent, dear Karen, always fills me with awe...


  36. Oh, this is glorious. Karen! I am so behind on my reading, and what a treat this is to find, as I do the rounds and hopelessly try to catch up.

  37. Vesper - Thank you, dear friend!

    Rachel - I know how busy you stay with your children and work. It's a wonder you ever have time to read here. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Merry Christmas to you and your family!