Sebastian Merrill: Persephone & Cerberus

I always wanted a dog, but
I never expected this one: 
hound of Hades, three heads,

his eyes flash fire. He stands
by the river, allows the dead 
to enter but not to leave. 

I’ve named him for my own. 
I hum him songs my mother
used to sing to me, bend low

to his ear. We are rooted, here.
He is ugly, but he is alive: he squats
to shit on the hard ground, paws

the earth, circles three times round
before he rests. He leans heavy 
against my side, three tongues 

pink in panting. Hercules arrived
sweaty & disturbed, dragged the dog
to the surface & back, never asked

me for permission. The big oaf
almost strangled his many heads
with chains of adamant, forced

him to walk in the sunshine 
like a curse. Now when I go
to the river, Cerberus settles 

at my feet on a pillow
of bank moss. Together,
we watch the dead come in. 

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