GH (5 3 38 / leipzig)

When Persephone Returns

When Persephone returns in spring
to the bighorn desert, ocotillos
bloom to greet her, and there is no sting
from flowering cactuses that form her pillows.
Empurpled, the verbenas cover all the ground,
and little poppies add a touch of yellow,
while everywhere where lupins can be found
Persephone feels welcomed, warm and mellow.

Inspired by a trip to the Anza Borrego State Park. Borrego means bighorn sheep and Juan Bautista de Anza Bezerra Nieto (July 1736 - December 19,1788) , proposed in 1772 proposed an expedition to Alta California to the Viceroy of New Spain. This was approved by the King of Spain and on January 8,1774 with 3 padres,20 soldiers,11 servants,35 mules,65 cattle, and 140 horses he set forth from Tubac south of present day Tucson, Arizona. The expedition took a southern route along the Rio Altar (Sonora y Sinaloa, New Spain) then paralleled the modern Mexico/California border and crossed the Colorado River at its confluence with the Gila River in the domain of the Yuma tribe with which he established good relations. He reached Mission San Gabriel Arcangel near the California coast on March 22,1774 and Monterey, California, Alta California's Capital April 19th. He returned to Tubac by late May,1774. This expedition was closely watched by Viceroy and King and on October 2,1774 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and ordered to lead a group of colonists to Alta California. The Spanish were desirous of reinforcing their presence in Northern California, partly as a buffer against Russian advances from the north and partly in order to possibly establish a harbor that would give shelter to Spanish ships. The expedition got under way in October,1775 and arrived at Mission San Gabriel in January,1776 the colonists having suffered greatly from the winter weather en route. It was also inspired by D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Bavarian Gentians”:
Not every man has gentians in his house
in soft September, at slow, sad Michaelmas.

Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
darkening the daytime, torch-like, with the smoking blueness of Pluto's
ribbed and torch-like, with their blaze of darkness spread blue
down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day
torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto's dark-blue daze,
black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter's pale lamps give off
lead me then, lead the way.

Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September
to the sightless realm where darkness is awake upon the dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice
or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom,
among the splendor of torches of darkness, shedding darkness on
the lost bride and her groom.


by gershon hepner

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