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