Penelope Unweaving

This tapestry is a language
of twenty years sounding
the horizon for a mast,
leaping with each thin spire
that appears on the sea,
and falling back to silence.

Her threaded fingers silently
mute this loom-language,
the woven winedark sea,
unweaving sound
each thread of its waters, conspire
to unword the tangled mass.

Birds, an olive tree, a ship’s mast
dangle undone. Their silent
lunar collusion expires
with day, with the language,
the shuttle-borne wooden sound,
of reweaving wings, roots, sea.

Her suitors would have seized
her long ago, en masse,
but for the storied sound
of her loom lulling them to silence.
Still, they circle, their language
Greek to her, their words expired.

When he returns, she conspires
in his disguise (she sees
it’s him) by her language,
holding her tongue, mastering
her well of feeling. Silent,
her gesture is sound.

The contest sounds
a turn: the suitors expire,
their blood in winedark silent
threads. Having seized
his home, he is unmasked,
but she’s found her voice, her language.

It sounds like a language
of spirants, sawing the olive mast
of her bed from its silent roots in the sea.