What Was Lost: The Story of Spring

What Was Lost: The Story of Spring February 14, 2012

I only had a single moment with her father, but it was enough. When I first knew that I was pregnant, I felt such joy at the thought of this small life growing inside of me. I felt her tiny kicks and stirrings. I found myself smiling with each push and stretch. When she was born, crying and bloody, I held her to my chest and felt my soul bind to hers. She was so beautiful, I never wanted to put her down, for those first few months, I didn’t. I held her, so that any cry would be instantly met with what she needed. Her coos were my constant music, and I often lost myself in her determined gaze. She was this small mystery that began to change and reveal its secrets slowly over time. She began to roll, and crawl, then walk, and who she was began to be revealed. I was so happy. My heart was filled with love and wonder at this amazing creature. It spilled out into the world and made the pathways green, and the fields rich with abundance. My daughter would run through the brightly colored flowers and laugh. She was so independent. By the time she became a young lady, I was so proud of how strong she was. I felt no fears, for I knew how determined she was. I knew she would always get her way. She was my Persephone.

I heard the thunder of the ground splitting. I felt it shake the world. I felt the cold water of fear run through my chest. I ran. My Baby! I ran so hard, my chest pieced with pain and my heart thumping so hard, it felt as if it would split me open. Where is she? Where is my baby? I circled the world looking. With each passing day I lost hope. I felt the fear splinter into a million tiny thoughts. Each shard danced and changed into a new horror in my mind’s eye. The visions soon were replaced by grief and despair. Would I ever know what had become of my precious one?

The Rape of Persephone by Rupert Bunny, image via Wikimedia Commons
The Rape of Persephone – Rupert Bunny (1913)

I crawled into a cave dark enough to match my feelings. Horrors swept my mind. Thoughts of what she must have endured in her final moments refused to leave. I wept. I cut the pain out of my skin with stones. The blood ran free. I endured such agonies in my own head. My despair began to leak out into the world. The crops had long since begun to whither when Hecate’s torch light fell on my dirt covered face. This wise woman had been walking by the crevice that had torn the world the day my daughter was lost, when she had heard the singing. She held her torch high as she gingerly crawled down into the belly of the world, following the voice she knew in her heart was my daughter’s.

There in the throne room of the Dark God Hades was my sweet child. Her voice raised in song; singing to chase away her hunger. Hecate told me that Hades had struck a deal with Persephone’s father. Hades had taken my beautiful girl to be his wife. All the pain, the fear, the despair burned hot now as true hatred and anger. How dare Zeus take my child and give her away to the land of death? I approached him, all my anger leaching into the air around me. It poisoned the world to the point that there were no plants left alive.

Give me back my child, I demanded. You had no right to take her.

I am her father. I have every right, he replied.

My anger became a flame that burned cold. Cold enough to freeze the world. The lives of those who rode Gaia’s back had lost so much. They had nothing left to give to the Gods in sacrifice. Did the Gods not feel that loss dearly? They began to beg Zeus to force me to make the world grow again. How could he force the anger and pain from my heart? He knew he could not.

You have no rights to take the sacrifices away from your Brother and Sister Gods.

My anger gives me the right, I replied.

I saw my rage mirrored in his face. His pride made him hesitate, but when the sacrifices stopped completely, he relented. Zeus went to our brother to ask for his daughter back. Had his pride not kept him so long…. Persephone was in the land of the dead, but she was not yet dead herself. She had grown so hungry. It was just a few seeds from the pomegranate that Hades had given her. Just a few. That fruit had come from the underworld and was part of that dark land. When she ate the seeds and absorbed them, she took part of the underworld into herself. Hades agreed to allow his Queen and bride to return to me for part of the year. It was also agreed that Hecate would guide my sweet child home again. She would have to return in time, but I could ignore that for now.

I watched the road leading from that dark gash in the Earth, and when I saw her shadow far off, the light of Hecate’s torch, I screamed my joy. It burst forth from lips, and with it my love flowed out into the world again. My joy was repeated in the songs of the birds, and the birth of new life. My baby! My Baby! Sweet child of my life. Home again. Sweetest Persephone.

The return of Persephone, by Frederic Leighton (1891). Image via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.
The Return of Perspephone – Frederic Leighton (1891)

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