Penelope Waits, The Return/1 (poem)

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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

salvaging

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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