Late Summer, Persephone by Wendy Wisner

It’s almost time for you to leave me
but now, you’re flopped down on my bed,
auburn hair reddening as the sun bleeds
through the blinds, chin resting
in your palm, and it’s as though nothing is happening,
nothing is changing, you’re just my girl,
the way you’ve always been my girl,
chattering on about physics class,
some weird meme your friend sent you.
I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you,
but from the moment you were born,
I knew about the danger. It’s why I’d lay
my hand on your chest while you slept,
counting your breaths, your appley heart
pounding against my fingers.
Look at you now, giggling,
twisting a strand of that fiery hair
around your finger. You still trust me
to keep you safe, and I would never hurt you—
I swear it—but I can’t keep you here
forever. Outside, the black walnut
has already begun its slow march
toward winter. You can see it at this hour,
a browning at the leaves’ edges, a dry crackling
at the roots. When the earth opens,
I’ll hold on tight, grip you by the ends
of your blazing red threads, but we both know
you’ll slip right through my fingers.

— from Juniper Volume 8, Issue 1