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January 2016 vol 11 no 4

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Melanie Faith

Penelope


No one can contain the waves; they are not like beans in a bronze pot, they are not like threads woven to make them stronger together. Where you have gone I could not follow; where you have gone I could not reach you with a child's first smile, with the village idiot's last breath, with an orange-pink sunset though I pace the shore, wet lapping my hem, spotting your ship that is never your ship at our horizon.

The sea roils in the near distance; it booms torment, calming only at light's return to mercy. I long to gather you to me, but there is nothing here beyond the rush of wind, nothing beyond the tedious ache of hours to hold close.

The fishermen are persistent; they haul in their teeming catch of silvery fish, they catcall and jostle my elbow. I slip through, as long as I have to. I set up a stool. My fingers set to reversing the brocade. With each strand, I unknot the current that says there is a world of temptation you will not resist, being after all a robust, mortal man. With each strand, I push back wars and women and winds that took you from us.

Picking apart my tight braiding, I daydream of reaching to rest my palm on your scratchy, bearded cheek. "You're home." I practice, but no sound matches the ardor, the tenderness inside this gold box lodged between the birdcage of my ribs.

Are you well, my darling? Are you awake, alone with your confusions, too?

With practice, I have gotten as skilled in undoing as you once complimented my making. See what quick work I make of unraveling. Bright hues, these silky strands again dangle; the weave cannot hold until your return.

gathered treasure
comet debris fallen
in a wish


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