by Janet Hanna
Demeter could be demanding
In her sloe-eyed witchcraft ways,
Always threatening to dry up the spring rains
Or divert Zephirus’ warm breath.
You never knew from one year to the next
If she could be trusted to give the pomegranates juice
Or make the sap in the fig trees run.
But then her belly grew ripe
Like the oval melons she nourished,
And all the islanders wondered
What horny Olympian or rough farmer
Had placed his hands on her thighs.
There were wagers, of course.
Siphnos’ patriarchs put their entire fields of grain
Against Crete’s annual venison run
That she’d been coupled by Apollo.
On Santorini they whispered dirty jokes
And the Athenians sent an envoy to Delphi
To seek the ancient wisdom of the old woman
With dried milk on her breasts who sat chewing
Juniper berries in her steamy rock.