Sunday, July 15, 2018

When Hades smiled

an untitled retelling of the myth by Lyle Dagnen, originally written for the former Siren Lagoon 
and published in La Vie Sirene

Artist unknown
Persephone, goddess of spring, wife of Hades, sat playing with two smooth jewels that her husband had recently given to her. She so loved the fields of yellow jonquils in the spring; the stones were amber. Clear and golden. The cold months on earth had frozen the surface of the planet and it was time for her to return to visit her mother Demeter so that she would bless the earth and make it fruitful once again. When she was first brought to the underworld by her love struck husband she had cried of loneliness and she did not like the dark world. She had thought that her heart might break.

Slowly, day by day, she began to recognize that Hades was remorseful for kidnapping her but that he could no more let her out of his sight than he could shut down the dreary place he lived. The first thing he had ever given her was a pink stone that was the color of the flowers she had worn in her hair when she was captured. It was warm because he had held it closed in his hand. When she touched his hand to pick up the stone, she noticed that the mighty god held his breath, closing his eyes, enjoying the sensation of her touch.

He worked daily to provide tasty morsels for her to eat. She had not eaten a thing since she came to the underworld. Finally, she ate five ruby red seeds of a pomegranate. He smiled. It was such a lovely smile, she began to see the depth of the man that she at first thought she hated.

On earth Demeter was so grief stricken that she did not care for the earth and it had become barren. Zeus, king of all the gods, asked what could be done. Demeter wanted her daughter Persephone back. Zeus went to speak to his brother, but he soon recognized that Hades loved Persephone so much that he would never give her up. Finally it was decided that if she had not eaten anything she could come back to earth. The five seeds seemed to doom her to an everlasting life in the dark world and the earth itself would perish. It was decided that she could spend one month for every seed she had eaten with her mother; the rest of the time was to be spent with Hades. Neither Hades or Demeter particularly liked the bargain; however, they agreed.

As Persephone sat playing with the amber stones she realized that Hades, too, had been thinking about her time on earth. He had walked away rather than sit with her. She had come to know and love this dark, brooding man that was her husband. She loved her time on the surface, but she never regretted when it was time to return to him. She was frustrated because she could not make Hades or Demeter happy.

“Husband” she called as she walked up behind him. “Thank you for the lovely gift.” She placed her hand on his strong back waiting for him to face her.

“Carry them with you,” his deep voice rumbled “Think of me when you are away.” He looked over his shoulder at her.

She smiled up at him. “I always think of you. I miss you while I am away.”

He turned, wrapping her in his mighty arms, holding her as close as he dared. “It tears my heart so when you leave me.”

“I will always come back to you,” she whispered as she kissed him. The dark god gentled at her caress and her touch. 

“Come,” he whispered as his hands held her gently “I'll take you back.” 

Persephone knew deep in her heart that this was a gift he was giving her. He would carry her up the long passage way in his black chariot pulled by four mighty black horses that thundered when they ran.

Persephone held tightly to her husband as they began their journey. As soon as she appeared on the surface, the snow and ice began to melt, spring was on the earth, the growing season at hand.

Demeter was frowning when she saw her son-in-law. For the first time in forever, he did not speak harshly to her. Stepping from the chariot he reached up to lift Persephone to the ground. Before he sent her to her mother, he once again kissed her deeply, pouring all the love he felt for her in his kiss. “I love you, wife” he whispered, which was a gentle roll of thunder.

Persephone, caressed his face. “I love you, husband. I will return to you, my heart already longs for you.” 

Hades smiled.