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by Brianna Sulzener

Hell is dull, and full of time.
Persephone drags herself through the dead
garden planting rocks in the dust.
She waits for summer to grow up and get her.
She’s a scant thing to be queen.

I remember earth:
there was chalk on the back of my skirt.
I kept a diary wrapped in blue cotton
beneath the last pew of a lakeside chapel.
When I saw him I thought, people drown like this.
Nuns delivered my babies and I was very tired.
It was hard. You know it’s going to be hard.
The rain made my breasts ache and he played
music in the living room. We were always borrowing.

I barely felt the viper bite. The venom I feel still.

As for my husband—
It was an impossible instruction.
Understand the breach of justice.
Don’t look back, the devil said.
Behind him, the scrape of iron on cement.
Behind him, the erotic swish of my shift.
He looked and was marked by the
the loss of me, again, like a cold re-caught.

Hell is dull, and full of time.
I never believed in my resurrection.
I only followed him to watch his shoulders
move inside the machine of his body.
He was so alive it killed me.

After years of cereal, life ends like an empire—
that certain, that slow, that many casualties.
Everyone saw it coming and no one
could believe when it came.

The child queen still misses her mother.
Down here, every hope seems insane.

* * *

Brianna Sulzener is a poet living in Iowa City alongside two beautiful lunatics. Her poems have recently appeared in Goblin Fruit and Stone Telling.

What's the most important aspect of a fantasy poem?

An impending sense of doom, though perhaps that applies to poetry in general. In which case, I'd have to say magic, which might also apply to poetry in general. Alright, I'll just say monsters. Monsters and goddesses and extreme bravery.