Demeter's Face

Lately I have been feeling a shift in myself, as though I am finally coming up from the underworld where I have sat in the dark for three years listening to the dead recount stories, as though the fog is being lifted. I am no longer feeling entirely lost or hopeless, yet at the same time I have found myself thrust back into the world somewhat violently, as if spat out from the bottom of a well into the dizzying, buzzing metropolis of material Life.

Ahh yes I remember now
the whistling kettle just a kettle, and a bird song just a song. 
The plants at the windowsill gone mute. 
The colours retracting their open palms.
Red is a clenched fist, no longer.
Green is eyes in the trees, no longer. 
The planks no longer sigh beneath my feet. 

I recognise this world, it's simple and facile, like an ice sheet floating atop a vast and abysmal ocean.

For the most part, I have been dragged back kicking and screaming. My days have been filled with tantrums, arguments, self-hatred and stomach knots. For a month I stopped eating, dropped a couple sizes. The grief of emerging from grief.

Yet, my heart, what's known cannot be unknown.The secrets of the dream world have stayed with me. In my womb I have carried back some formless and mysterious seeds from the realm of the inner earth. I don't know what they are but I know they're there.

Some days the idea of them scares me, some days it thrills me and fills me hope.

I think it was the psychic woman. No really, she wasn't full of it, I know she had a gift. I felt her opening up softly, in a room full of constricted, clamped up women. She led us to the source and asked us to drink. She opened up the ample silence and nudged us in, told us to explore. She was gentle but assertive. Sincere but loving. I questioned her motives manifold, but when I closed my eyes I sensed she cared deeply in a free and impersonal way, like a cool summer breeze.

I learnt a lot that day. I could swear she instructed me to let go, but maybe it was my soul speaking. I told her I was afraid of destroying the world, absolutely terrified, and a bubbling laugh sprang up from her belly: "I have destroyed a few myself!"

When I went home that night, after having reconnected with long lost images of my childhood (my uncle's lemon tree, the chalk stones we used to pick up and draw in the street with, our water well that my dad used to water the garden), something inside me cracked open. A few days later we made a trip to the store and bought soil and seedlings. We toiled in the back yard all afternoon shoveling dirt, mulching, planting. Somehow my body remembered how I used to sink my fingers in the soil in our back yard in Lefkosia as a child, planting potatoes, onions, herbs. My nails and clothes were always dirty, my shoes always muddy, but my parents found great amusement in my agrarian obsessions. My body remembered the thrill of digging for potatoes and pulling them up to the surface wide-eyed, as though a precious ore.  When my mother made a potato stew out of them and we all ate it, I felt pride and fulfillment.

My body remembered. That afternoon, hunched over, with the sun behind me casting a shadow, I scooped up a clump of soil to make space for my tomato transplant. At the bottom of the dark earthy planting hole, there it was: Demeter's face, lovingly smiling up at me.

Since that day in late March, I have been going out there at the edge of our plot where our garden is to check on our plants, removing bugs, providing compost and algae food, caressing the leaves and coaxing them gently: grow, grow and be happy, grow grow and bloom, be friends with the sun and drink of its light and give us fruits and give us life. I even find myself singing to them day after day after I come home from work, as my old flatmate Fotini used to sing to our houseplants, who seemed to thrive and revel in her presence and happiness. And out of the deepest depths of my memory came strange songs from a happy childhood, like these (yes, I have sat on the grass in the Louisiana wet heat singing these):

And day after day I watch the eggplants bloom, and the cucumbers sprawl, and the tomatoes plump up and blush. Day after day I feel my body come out of the ether and mould into the shape of a woman. Day after day I feel my roots growing deeper into the ground. Day after day my mind is cast to my cousin and her children, who are turning two this year, who day by day seem to grow taller, whom she sings to and coaxes gently and gives of herself, so that they may grow, grow and be happy, grow grow and bloom, be friends with the sun and drink of its light, and give us fruits and give us life.


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