~ after Persephone, Helen Lundeberg, 1950
The earth shivers and births a crack that fingers its way towards her toes. She realizes she hasn’t much time.
Marry me, she says to the sky. Marry me, to the soil. To the rain, she gives welcome. To the stars, she offers a knot of worms in the cup of her hand. To the dark, a promise to return. She smells the saccharine wilt of her flowers, turns from the sun, swallows the wind.
Her father finally tracks down the groom, weeping at his own father’s grave. What have I done, he cries out loud, his tongue parching and fissuring as he slips into the fracture.
It’s what you have refused to do, whispers the moon as it recedes into dark’s widening funnel.
At the age of 31, Persephone’s mother becomes a grandmother. Is she really up for babysitting? She packs a suitcase, leashes the family dog, leaves the cat. It can fend for itself, she tells her daughter, the implication clear. Persephone chokes on the cloud of dust the old Chevy stirs up as her mother peels out of the driveway toying with undercover names. The car is patched with oatmeal and string. It follows the crack to the horizon. Later, when her grandchild searches for her, she is nowhere to be found.
Marry me, she says. Now. Her trembling feet turning to ice.
Mikki Aronoff’s work appears or is forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Intima, Thimble Literary Magazine, London Reader, SurVision, Rogue Agent, Popshot Quarterly, The South Shore Review, The Fortnightly Review, Feral, The Phare, Sledgehammer Lit, Flash Boulevard, New World Writing, Emerge, The Disappointed Housewife, Tiny Molecules, Potato Soup Journal, and elsewhere. Her stories and poems have received Pushcart and Best Microfiction nominations.