Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Penelope Gives Instructions on Weaving and Men

First you shear the sheep.
You’ll need lots of wool, so that men
can’t follow what you are doing.
Always spin your own thread,
go slow. Even the Fatae,
Night’s own weird daughters,
work for years
to get to the shroud.
Set your dyes to match
the living room, not
the bedroom. Take time off
on Thursdays or Saturdays,
make your suitors move
furniture: shift a sofa,
hang a picture, haul away a bed.
When you warp the loom, be
certain of the tension. Keep them
at each other’s throats
for as long as you can.
In the weaving, strive
for perfection. Unravel and redo
as much as you can.
And when your errant husband returns,
chases the others away, asks you
to come to bed, go ahead and tell him:
Yes, dear, as soon as
I finish this bit of weaving.

This poem originally appeared in Heavy Bear, Issue 3.

When Persephone Ate the Pomegranate

No doubt she washed the dish.
It’s what women do when lost—
find something to clean,
to put in order, something
to hold and rock,
as we were rocked by our mothers
in their own sorrows.
He wouldn’t notice a clean dish,
only that she’d eaten—
a contract signed by ignorance.
It’s a thing men know:
that food, a roof, a bed,
the semblance of love,
is the price of a wife.
Who would have thought
that six ruby seeds could taste
so bitter? Sit so heavy?
The wintery accusation—
the stain of stale lust
on cold sheets—
just cold enough to freeze
an entire world.

This poem originally appeared in Heavy Bear, Issue 3.