Demeter, as she has so many times before, opens her cedar chest
and takes from it the first of many woolen blankets.
She has had many such, blankets and chests both,
and will doubtless have many more,
as long as day follows night
and her daughter follows the dark son she married.
The separation hurts, but perhaps not as much as it used to.
Persephone, after all, always returns,
is always glad to be home,
though Demeter suspects that returning to Hades
feels just the same,
so very very glad to be home.
There are yet no children,
and that too is an old pain,
edges rounded and softened and blurred.
Children would be a treasure,
but children would mean longer away.
Demeter shakes her head,
smiles at her own self-indulgent foolishness,
and begins to make up the bed.
The first snows will soon fly,
though no longer the vicious ice storms there had been.
Children grow, and spread their wings, and fly into the world.
Sometimes they fly back, and sometimes the world flies back with them.
The bed is finished, the lighter blankets bundled to be washed.
As she leaves the room, Demeter kisses her fingertips,
touches the door frame,
Persephone will not be here this winter,
will not sleep in this bed under these blankets.
It doesn’t matter.
There will always be a place for her.
The ritual is a comfort, and a promise.
I do not forget.