Wintering in the Underworld

by Katherine Hoerth

The goddess used to spend her winters fighting

against the seasons—shoveling the snow,

nursing her arthritic bones, and dreaming

of spring’s return. But now, she’s gotten smarter.

She packs up her RV and drives down south

to the Rio Grande Valley. Hades,

whose eyes aren’t fit for driving anymore,

slumbers shotgun at her side and snores.

She’d heard this valley was a kind of hell;

Persephone had learned to question stories.

When they arrive, she’ll spend the sunny season

plucking grapefruits from her backyard orchard,

devoring them slice by slice in bliss

each morning with her yogurt and her pills.

She’ll sunbath in the nude all afternoon–

she’s past the age of worrying on wrinkles,

cancer of the skin or peeping Toms.

She simply loves the feeling of this warmth

enveloping her skin like gentle flames,

the way that drops of sweat stream down her cheeks,

sparkling then pooling on her chest.

She’ll eat her Christmas dinner in a pair

of flip-flops and a sundress, decorate

a palm tree with some festive cotton balls

in place of snow. And then, she’ll celebrate

the new year in a red bikini, sip

one too many pomegranate cosmos.

When spring returns, she’ll pack her zip her suitcase up,

head back north to babysit the grandkids,

and dream all summer long of coming back

to winter with her love in paradise.

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