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Amy Bloom

“Surely, somewhere in the back of Bulfinch, in a part Lillian had not gotten to, there is an obscure (abstruse, arcane, shadowy, and even hidden) version of Proserpine in he Underworld in which a tired Jewish Ceres schleps through the outskirts of Tartarus, an ugly village of tired whores who must double as laundresses and barbers, a couple of saloons, a nearly empty five-and-dime, and people too poor to pull up stakes. In this version, Ceres looks all over town for her Proserpine, who crossed the River Cyane in a pretty sailboat with Pluto, having had the good sense to come to an understanding with the king early on. Pluto and Proserpine picnic in a charming park, twinkling lights overhead and handsome wide benches like the ones in Central Park. When Ceres comes, tripping a little on her hem as she walks through the soft grass, muttering and trying to yank Proserpine to her feet so they can start the long trip home to Enna and daylight (which has lost much of its luster, now that Proserpine is queen of all she surveys), the girl does not jump up at the sight of her mother, but takes her time handing out the sandwiches and pours cups of sweetened tea for the three of them. She lays a nicely ironed napkin in her lap and another in the lap of her new husband, the king. Proserpine does not eat the pomegranate seeds by mistake, or in a moment of desperate hunger, or fright, or misunderstanding. She takes the pomegranate slice out of her husband’s dark and glittering hand and pulls the seeds into her open, laughing mouth; she eats only six seeds because her mother knocks it out of her hand before she can swallow the whole sparkling red cluster.
“We have to get home,” Ceres says.
“I am home,” her daughter says.”


Amy Bloom, Away
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Away Away by Amy Bloom
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