#tbt: Rachel Zucker, “Letter [Persephone to Hades]”

This week’s Throwback Thursday selection is Rachel Zucker’s “Letter [Persephone to Hades]” from Eating in the Underworld (2003), a re-imagining of Greek myth. Both spare and lyrical, the poems are written as entries in Persephone’s diary and as letters between Persephone, Demeter, and Hades. Zucker also features in a recent New Yorker article by Dan Chiasson.


zucker blog




A city grows up to house millions;
cherished fields destroyed willingly.

The surface is carved over and over in names.

Some call it love, some obligation—
though neither true, we pile up and prosper.

Won, like a trinket, I obey and am nothing.
Hear?—she calls me:

from other rooms, across deep rivers,
complains I’m never where she left me.

She forbids me meadows, untilled prairies for fear
I’ll find the lower whose hundred stems grow from one root.

So I keep to the craggy enclaves, outside watchfulness:
mountains, shores, places which sustain no vegetation—



RACHEL ZUCKER is the author of nine books, most recently, a memoir, MOTHERs, and a double collection of prose and poetry, The Pedestrians. Her book Museum of Accidents was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 2013. Zucker teaches poetry at New York University.