When You Are Gone

When You Are Gone

I will be as Penelope,
Waiting with the patience of the universe.
Embroidering a veil and pulling out the stitches
So that there is always something to occupy my hands.
For the guests who try to sweeten your departure,
I will offer feasts and more feasts.
It matters not that I taste only ashes.
Penelope had the patience of the universe,
But I have only the patience of a woman.

I will take a ship to water.
Change my gold sandals for boots,
Silk robes for a cloak of wool.
I will take a dagger,
Hide it behind my innocence,
And conceal poison in the red of my lips.
I have been slipping in between Scylla and Charybdis
My whole life, so one more time means nothing.
I will be a sailor until the sea grants me passage.

When my boat kisses the shores of another land,
I will step in the sand and burn sandalwood, calling luck to my side.
I will travel the land that has taken you,
Be there men with heads of dogs
Or women with wings of steel.
Stories old men tell won’t scare me away.

If I must turn into nobody
To pass the watchful eye of the Cyclops,
I will leave my name at his doorstep.

Circe’s eyes have no power over mine,
Even if her draughts taste like peaches and honey.
My smile will open doors closed to men
And my dagger will open doors closed to women.

I will burn offerings in the temples
Of Poseidon, who cradles your ship,
Of Aphrodite, who forged our bond,
Of Hermes, who aides in my trickery,
Of Athena, who blesses my mind,
Of Artemis, who guides my hand.
I will leave no temple untouched,
So you will never have to count your blessings.

I will walk until I reach the edge of the world
Where waters fall into the abyss
And by the white rock I will descend into the dark
That tastes like asphodels.
Below, I will cry your name until my words are echoes.
I will turn away from the Lethe river and taste the waters of the Styx
When I see your shadow
And the shadow that walks next to it.

For I will wait as Penelope,
But your way was never back
To Ithaca.

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