National Poetry Month April 29, 2020.
Twenty years without hearth sitting, shawl weaving,
sock sewing, without supervising servants so the roast pig
is pleasing to the hoards of lascivious men swigging wine,
pinching servants and waving cardboard swords
Twenty years of adventures, the captain of her ship
never falling for lotus flowers or the seductive voices of sirens
no need for wax plugs in her ears
but Poseidon saw her make offerings to grey-eyed Athena
and sent a tsunami to destroy her ship
Rowing home on a battered raft, her mind glowing with one-eyed giants,
fierce cannibals and sea monsters with six heads
knowing her husband has not woven and unwoven a shroud
knowing he is living on the lips of prostitutes
and a fireside is waiting to swallow her
A dog barks on the shore, runs up and down the beach
let the bard’s words take up wings and sing away
she sails on
1. What inspired you to write this poem?
I love Greek myths, but of course the heroes are mostly men. So it was fun imagining Penelope, not Odysseus as the adventurer. And having Odysseus remain at home.
2. What do you like about this poem?
I like the feminism. Penelope sails on, not wanting to return to her cramped existence and her unfaithful husband.
3. What would you change about this poem?
I might like get more inside Penelope’s head and write the poem from her viewpoint, using “my” instead of “her.”
4. Where, when, and how often do you write?
I write almost every day for at least an hour. I write at my desk, although I have note pads around the house to jot down a word or phrase that I like.
5. What poetry books are you reading right now?
I am rereading The Carrying by Ada Limon and Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds. I am inspired by both books. When I feel the muse is lolling on a beach in Florida, I take down a poetry book I love and read it again.