Author: Pam O'Brien

Still in the cashmere life, Penelope hides behind a veil.
Ulysses asks the king: “Will you give me your daughter for my wife?”
She starts her weaving with Ulysses’ eyelashes
making shadows on his cheeks.
She goes with him. Then she stays.

She stays behind when less than a year later
he leaves for the Trojan War, risk, years.
She stays and weaves eyelashes, the summer Sunday
they are in the sea wearing nothing but water,
the heat where his body stops, hers begins,
his voice dropping gentle at night,
his dark hand on her spine. She weaves from memory.

Her memories are a spider web around her heart.
She cannot break free. Each year when snow is melting
and green is shining through, new suitors beg her
to remarry, to forget the man who must surely be dead.
Penelope knows she will be trapped in now or trapped in then,
knows that her weaving keeps Ulysses alive,
alive enough so that when she reaches for him
on rainy March evenings, he is tucked away complete,
not one part of him lost.

She almost loses everything, for she promises
to take a new lover when her weaving is complete.
But she outwits them all, by night unravels
every stitch of her web, as if to say
this is enough, this waiting,
this doing and redoing,
this mystery,
this taking shape and growing,
this coming apart.