Ceres in the Field of Bones Be real with me for once and answer: So one season of destruction is not enough for you? I’m not sorry I was never drawn to you like I was drawn to the high sea. Somewhere along the way, I developed an internal ocean. Underwater, there’s still agriculture. I can swim deeper than darkness goes. When you took my love from me, I could not bear to look at flowers anymore. Accounts vary. Stories unstitch to make me smaller but I remember what I wanted: to slash at the root, to rend my nails bloody in the dirt until I found you— How do you kill an undead god? Raze the barren strawberry, coltsfoot, wine cup, the cut-and-come-again. In the trees magnolia petals perch like swan napkins, cream. They brown sweetly as banana peels. Tear them in fistfuls from their branches. I can’t stand you seeing colors when all I see is wind and brine tide pools. No starfish. Nothing to point at that’s mine. If you must spare the poppy, orange-sick and lustful then break a record of spring rainfall— a super bloom we can view from space. May the fields glow like daughters before you poison them all.
Ceres in the Environmental Personhood “Hail goddess keep this city safe!” -Hymn 13, card 1 Listen, I don’t want to leave my job. I just want an apology because it’s not my fault that you were made stupid by the fear of blasphemy, which is really your own need for control over other minds. A person cannot be owned so therefore, neither can a river. Neither forest nor field. All living systems share a common destiny—indivisible and whole from the mountains to the sea, the right to exist, to persist, to maintain and regenerate their vital cycles. A goddess belongs to herself, which is to say I don’t belong to your environment or your economy if I choose my shipwrecked existence, my dark-walled home. Here is the world’s greatest secret: my daughter lives in art and summer and golden leaves. I have no daughter or I have every one. She is the personification of vegetation. I am the mother of the goddess of death: savior maiden, bringer of fruit, child of bread. Here is the greater secret no one wants you to know: she went willingly in search of her own depth and power. That means I must go, too.
From the Author: These poems are written in the voice of the Roman goddess of agriculture, women and girls, and cereal grains, as imagined in the twentieth century Anthropocene. Ceres is the Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, the mother of Persephone.
Anne Barngrover’s most recent poetry collection, Brazen Creature, was published with The University of Akron Press in 2018 and was a finalist for the 2019 Ohioana Award for Poetry. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she is on faculty in the low-residency MA program in Creative Writing, and lives in Tampa, Florida.