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Christine Hamm

Persephone in the Tunnel of Love

Passage VIII by Fabien Beuchet

And then you slip inside the four gates of death, filled with teeth and polar light, closer and closer, feeling ugliness along your tongue. A white cat visits this pristine yard, where the lives of silver foxes swarm. You put a hand under her belly, you hold her: you practice how to spell simple words, stone, wish, hover. There may be time for questions at the end of the ride. She tips her soft triangle head back, licks your chin. You slide onto the boat, the boat tips and settles. As you float by a lawn scalloped by yellow rose bushes, you film a mother struggling to be, pulling off the wet linens, biting through the cords. Mumbling to herself, she chases you and your camera to the next bridge. You are running out of the other words, the words for weather and disease. Still, here is a mother, your mother, glowing in her soft beige room, waiting for her breath to stop. The gates have closed, are closing. You run, peeling off the heaviness of your gold cuffs, as translucent birds shriek and tangle in your scarf.


About the writer:
Christine E. Hamm (she/her), queer & disabled English Professor, social worker and student of Ecopoetics, has a PhD in English, and lives in New Jersey. She recently won the Tenth Gate prize from Word Works for her manuscript Gorilla. She has had work featured in North American Review, Nat Brut, Painted Bride Quarterly and many others.

Image: Passage VIII by Fabien Beuchet (contemporary). Gouache on paper. 16.5 x 12 inches. 2017. By permission. Fabien Beuchet is an artist, teacher, and art critic from France. He is currently developing an international life project made of painting, photography, art history, and art criticism to allow us to build bridges of creativity across media.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporationsupporting writers and artists worldwide.

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