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A River Trip Poem by Ruth Thompson (The River Odyssey, 2016)

The Return

 

When the hero comes back from her journey she is in the greatest danger of all.

The jaws of the ordinary close

around her ankles. The tendrils

 

of her other stories fill her mouth.

That shape she left behind, empty,

slides up around her

and snaps to. 

 

She might never have gone.

 

Odysseus went away again, then,

to a place where no one had ever heard

of the sea, his home, and there at last he died.

 

But Penelope, when she returns,

comes back to the loom, the unbleached

ground into which she has already been

woven. Unpicking those threads

 

is harder than unmaking a shroud

at night. Nor can she say if it is a shroud she needs, after all, here in Ithaca.

Or a cleverer weaver.

Ruth Thompson, 2016

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