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March Poem Series: Louise Glück

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Louise Glück | Penelope’s Song

Little soul, little perpetually undressed one,
Do now as I bid you, climb
The shelf-like branches of the spruce tree;
Wait at the top, attentive, like
A sentry or look-out. He will be home soon;
It behooves you to be
Generous. You have not been completely
Perfect either; with your troublesome body
You have done things you shouldn’t
Discuss in poems. Therefore
Call out to him over the open water, over the bright
Water
With your dark song, with your grasping,
Unnatural song—passionate,
Like Maria Callas. Who
Wouldn’t want you? Whose most demonic appetite
Could you possibly fail to answer? Soon
He will return from wherever he goes in the
Meantime,
Suntanned from his time away, wanting
His grilled chicken. Ah, you must greet him,
You must shake the boughs of the tree
To get his attention,
But carefully, carefully, lest
His beautiful face be marred

***

This poem actually reminded me of Corazon Almerino’s “Binangkal, Penelope.” I don’t want to entertain the idea that women are the only ones subject to waiting. Why must wait? Why not make your own life while your man is away. Travel. Go somewhere. In his return, he has to wonder why the house is empty. And when you get back and enter the house, welcome him. Welcome him from the outside. The song, the binangkal are manifestations of you waiting, of you plotting revenge, of you thinking of him all along while being stuck with your weaving.

There are other forms of waiting. Life itself has its own bout of waiting— tangible, intangible. And it does not have to be a woman marooned in a house. It is her own undoing, yes, by design. Na-high blood ko kadiyot. It goes to say the poems are really effective, affective.

Jona | Backpacking with a Book

Hi, I'm Jona! I write stories and poetry and take a lot of photos, which I'm too lazy to upload. If you want to receive some photos that I don't share here on the blog, please leave your email here. I'm crazy about cats too. Feel free to browse through BWAB, and I would love it if you say hi! For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com For more stories about BWAB, check here. Connect with us through

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