Monday, July 1, 2013

Penelope

This is a persona poem written from the perspective of Odysseus's wife Penelope from Homer's famous epic The Odyssey.


My husband fought many monsters, but so did I. People honor his tales of adventure but no one cares about the mundane life of glorified housewife. And if you asked me twenty years ago what I wanted to be, I would have said just your average housewife.

But that was not my fate.

My husbands curse became my curse. I didn't have the luxury of committing a multitude of sins while visiting the forbidden corners of the ocean. I just got to paid a heavy price for his mistakes. Although I am a queen it hardly matters in a society that likes to tell me that I still have no value. My palace became my prison, overrun with suitors who wanted to marry me only for possessions, land and title.

I thought up tricks to stall the suitors as long as I could. They stayed anyway and invaded my home. I was undermined and betrayed by those closest to me. And I loved my husband so much that I wanted nothing but for him to return safely.

I saw my home crumble around me and I watched my son grow up without a father. Do know how many times I wanted to just pick up and leave? Take my son and never look back. Start fresh somewhere else and let my past just vanish. But I was a good wife and I fulfilled my duty by staying.

No one ever asked me what I wanted because they assumed that this was all I could ever want. A palace, servants, men chasing after me. Maybe I wanted to travel and see the world too. But the only corner of the world I ever saw was the ocean outside of my window. The same ocean I saw in the morning and at night.

I was so jealous of the birds I saw coming and going as they pleased. What a beautiful feeling it must be to simply spread your wings and be anywhere you want to be. No one knows how many nights I sat at that window praying to any god that would listen to take this burden from me. But even the gods thought that these walls and this view are all I could ever want.

And when my husband finally did return he disguised himself to test my loyalty. After twenty years I passed every test that was given to me. And as much as I love him I know he did not afford me the same kind of loyalty. I wonder if I ever crossed his mind while he laid with all the others. I wonder if he ever missed watching his son grow up.

Now he sits by the fire retelling stories of his adventures. I am reminded of the sad truth that those who make mistakes receive celebrations while those who fulfill duties must keep going strong.

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