Penelope Waits, The Return/1 (poem)

Penelope and the Suitors by John William Waterhouse


Penelope Waits


why do I constantly

look out our window

hoping to see your ship

returning to its harbour?


why do I listen for the sound

of your footsteps echoing

up to our bedchamber?


but I know you too well


you’ve gone after

your own desires

& I’m the spider

who waits quietly


the thing with journeys

is that they spiral inwards

to your own dark heart


should you return

you’ll find me here

spinning a web

to ensnare you


& every night I unpick it

while hungry men wait below


none of them

have your eyes

or your smell


all the heroes returned

from the wars,

except you


long have I dreamed

of your dark hair, tanned skin,

& sinewy form to emerge

out of the frothing sea-water


& into my arms


but I know you too well

you will come home only

when you are tired

of your journeys


your betrayals

your lies


& after so many threads

I’m tired of waiting

for our lives to begin again


is there anything worth


between us?



Joanne Fisher



First published in JAAM.

This poem first appeared on my blog in February 2018.


This is the first part of a sequence which retells the Odyssey through the eyes of various characters in it. When I was child, the Odyssey was read to me (a prose version intended for children), so it’s a story I’ve been familiar with for most of my life.


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Β©2020 Joanne Fisher

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