Behind my parent’s house is a small natural area, a small copse of trees that leads to a forested area with a brook running through it. The city government recently tore down an old cedar frame structure that served as a small educational center, in preparation to build something more modern.
The absence of a man-made barrier has made the animals bolder, and the deer especially are more comfortable in their surroundings. During one late night of my visit I was walking the dog, urging her to hurry up and pee, and a spotted fawn darted across the field not ten feet in front of us. The dog was oblivious, casually munching grass and sniffing the night air. The deer was so quiet and still after its initial sprint; it presented no jarring movement to raise a dog’s hackles or produce a low growl. Under the amber glow of a streetlight, the faun’s eyes glowed as it stared at me, instinctively observing my actions, waiting for its internal signal of when to look away or leap back into the forest.
On the major highways and smaller state routes that cut through Ohio’s fields, one often sees deer only in the form of roadkill. Their eyes are glassy, their bellies bloated, their insides glistening and exposed. The corpses are not removed from the highway, which is what they do with dead moose in Alaska, who are actually the largest member of the deer family. Up there, the carcasses are harvested, cleaned, turned into cuts of meat and donated to families who are grateful for the sustenance. Though venison is consumed in many homes across Ohio, and there are many families with little to eat, the dead deer are not salvaged but instead left to rot, growing more putrid and disgusting and sad by the day. When Gary and I were first married, we lived in a rural area, and during my morning commute I regularly saw deer in various forms of decay. Their faces were usually sad and recognizable as something sentient at first, but by week’s end the crows and turkey vultures had rendered them unrecognizable.
It’s one of the things I had placed in the back of my mind, because in Tennessee I don’t usually see deer either roaming the streets or the highways; maybe there is enough natural area here, they don’t need to travel into our developed world much.
I don’t know why I wrote about this. I sat down, for the first time in a number of days (my first real opportunity to write), and intended to talk about Persephone. I saw an image of a sculpture by Bernini, where a bearded, muscular and handsome Hades (or Pluto, Bernini was Italian) is holding a youthful, plump Persephone in his arms. His strong hands hold the soft flesh of her thighs and ass, pressing firmly into her skin possessively. Her head is thrown back, and in her eyes is a mixture of longing, lust, and fear. He stole her from above, ripped her away from her mother Demeter. He bent her over and fucked her, chasing away the light in her eyes and replacing it with darkness and fire of the underworld.
But Persephone pouted. She allowed herself to be ravished, and maybe she even ravished him back, but she wanted to see the stars and the golden fields of wheat and her mother again. He gave her a bit of pomegranate (a seed, wasn’t it?) and she was allowed to push up from below the earth, escaping the glittering caves and dripping lakes of groundwater for a few months out of the year. In her happiness to be above-ground, she turned the cold winter to spring, and covered the fields with flowers and a wholesome, life-nourishing crop of wheat. She worked by her mother’s side again, fresh and new and pure.
I wonder though, did she relish the autumn with a pull between her legs and a bit of heat in her chest? Did the dark, possessive call of Hades’ passion bring her to her knees? Was she always quite ready to forego the light and the love of her mother for the promise of Hades’ obsessive brand of love?
That’s what I intended to write about, at least.