It does not happen as they say, the body
sluffing off and leaving light.
No. It’s terrible. All those
Who came home whole from Troy
now in nursing homes in Argos. Some brat-god
taking back, one by one, each thing they loved.
There is no dignity in this. And so Odysseus
Slips from Penelope’s warmth in the bed he carved
From a huge tree. Pretending to sleep,
She thinks of the melons she will split
On the courtyard table in the heat of the day.
He steps out into the overcast morning.
She thinks of the joiner’s apprentice,
Growing to fit his big hands, wonders
If he’s had a woman yet.
He feels the cool sand on his feet,
Heaves his shoulder into the boat.
She sits up, hangs her feet over the bed.
He is waist high now in the cold water.
Pulls himself up,
Yanks the half-hitch, frees…
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