As we begin the darkest time of the year, this week’s poem gives us the voice of Persephone, the goddess who, in Greek mythology, was carried off by Hades to become queen of the underworld. Her return each spring allows the plants to grow.

However, in this poem, which is from “Persephone in the Late Anthropocene,” a spoken opera and book-length series of poems, Persephone has entered the era of climate change: an “ever warmer harbor / nearly green.”

This poem brings us Persephone’s blues through its sounds. Notice all the chiming in the first stanza: “Slate-blue, bruised cobalt…/ …the chilled goblet and robe. / Nightshade and coal.” The poem’s rich lines hint at the danger that comes when nature’s cycles are changed by humans.

Megan Grumbling lives in Portland and teaches writing at SMCC and the University of New England. Her book of poems “Booker’s Point” (UNT Press, 2016) won the 2015 Vassar Miller Prize and the 2017 Maine Book Award for Poetry.

Persephone’s Blues Song

By Megan Grumbling

The blues, down there, got dark.

Slate-blue, bruised cobalt. Worse than the usual

solemnities, the chilled goblet and robe.

Nightshade and coal. Cold sentences

of cannot.

The blues leave blind spots.

Somewhere between the blue of need

and the blue of want, my eyes cease

to adjust. To abide my milk-blue cast

in the glass.

The blues send me above for a dose

of solace. Robin’s egg and gold.

Summer freckles, honey and rose.

This town’s ever warmer harbor

nearly green.

The blues beg bright things freed.

Larkspur in my brow, lemon

in my blonde. Inklings far too fair

and far too fleet to be kept

in the dark.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2015 Megan Grumbling. It appeared originally in the Baltimore Review, fall 2015, and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: