path through mountainside
Photo by Jan Valečka on Unsplash

Disappearance, Week Four by Seth Leeper

I walk along a road of stones, slippery

yet solid as ice. In crevices of the rocks

I can see your face when I blur my vision.

Each tear that lands burns at the surface

of the stones, creating a rising smoke that is

both rescue call and desperation. I call out

to you, my child, invoke the veil

of your spirit, but when the smoke forms

into tall clouds all I can see is the emptiness

of the dark. The shrill ascent of my voice

shakes the mountains and rustles the beaten

footpaths that branch out from the road of stones

like canals. Each step brings me closer to the river

where I shall kneel and wash away the dirty

residue of rage. I will sleep in the open

caves along the shore, and when I wake up

I will remember my loss all over again.


Seth Leeper is a queer poet. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, Always Crashing, The Summerset Review, The Broadkill Review, White Wall Review, decomp journal, and others. He holds an M.A. in Special Education from Pace University and B.A. in Creative Writing and Fashion Journalism from San Francisco State University. He lives and teaches in Brooklyn, NY. He tweets @sethwleeper.

Author's note

These pieces are from a manuscript titled, Persephone’s Aria, in which I wrote into the voices of Demeter and Persephone. Both figures cast a far shadow as archetypes through the centuries, but like other mythical figures, they have typically been spoken of and for. The intention of the project was to restore agency for these voices to own their own narratives. The pieces featured in Carmina Magazine are written in the voice of Demeter, as she searches for, and grieves, her daughter. There is an undercurrent of trauma for both mother and daughter in the wake of abduction and violation that inevitably changes each, and I was curious how that would impact that relationship. We find Demeter here on a journey that is both bereavement and sojourn over the course of the six months of Persphone’s disappearance. Each poem's title acts as a chronological framing of Demeter’s progression as she descends further into despair. They chronicle how her interactions and feelings towards her environment shifted with the escalation of her grief. I would be remiss not to mention how crucial the act of listening was in crafting the work. I strove to tune into a frequency that would convey each voice, and it is my hope that I was able to honor that gift with authenticity.