Penelope

This reading was recorded by Alessandro Mistrorigo for Phonodia at Bucknell University in London, UK, on the 28th of May, 2015.

Read by Shara McCallum on 28 May 2015

Penelope

Long ago I was the vision you needed,
image soldered in the mind’s furnace:

girl awaiting your arrival,
watching first light lacerate the sky.

You fancied the sea
a playground for your dreams,

but storms have entered you
like sound enters the skin of a drum,

changing its course.
After years adrift, you return

wanting to know how I exist
apart from you and your myths.

Husband, I learned to bear rupture
by staring down dawn,

to weave as daybreak
split open my rib cage.

Tomorrow when you leave our bed,
the sea’s call already filling your ears,

you will find fishermen
hauling in nets, shimmering fistfuls

of fish with bloodied gills. Listen to me:
raise one flopping creature from the rest

to inspect the arc of its dying;
see how struggle inscribes itself on air.

Then say a prayer. Offer a blessing.
Acknowledge your power

to deliver from your palm
whatever life pulses there.

from This Strange Land (Farmington, ME: Alice James Books, 2011).

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