from the Eleusinian Mysteries
by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler
In the deep cup named after him,
Hades feels absurd,
like most old men with young wives.
Sure, he possessed her, technically.
Pointlessly post-coital Persephone
with her pointedly barefoot stride,
flies laughing from the bedchamber,
rambunctious and craving breakfast.
The black tiles in the foyer
were meant to overawe
distinguished visitors, shuffling
slow and quiet so as not to wake
the dead draped over the rafters
and intricately peopling the chandeliers.
Now his bony feet skid over their veins
as he pursues his truant bride
across mealy dunes of meatless bone,
under eyeless & languid hurricanes of souls,
past the placidly unresponsive lake,
to the orchard she ravishes.
Persephone adores the food of the dead,
coalescing with mineral remoteness,
granite pomegranates whose marbled hides snap
at the adroit pressure of her short farmgirl fingernails
and disgorge their tiers of red seeds.
The branches that bore them, bald as test tubes,
become bleary and knotted observers now—of her mouth
joyously wrinkling around their sour offerings.
Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler is a poet and translator from Canterbury, New Hampshire, best known for his English renderings of books by great contemporary Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan, in collaboration with co-translator Reilly Costigan-Humes. Their translation of Zhadan’s novel Voroshilovgrad was published by Deep Vellum and received positive reviews from the Los Angeles Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The Times Literary Supplement. His poetry and translations have appeared in Ad Hoc Monadnock, Coldnoon, The Missing Slate, and Two Lines. His next translation, Mesopotamia, is forthcoming from Yale University Press.