Portrait of My Mother as Penelope
My father told stories my mother
When he left, she
read The Odyssey to me.
I learned about heroic similes
& epic flaws. But my knowledge bank
was frail—my father broke in again
& again to steal the memories I had of him
that still held value. In his absence
she sat weaving & unweaving
the predictable pattern of his story.
I tried my hand at the loom
but found my fingers too clumsy.
She asked me to comb her hair.
As we grew older, we took swigs
of ouzo until it lit our throats on fire.
All the while, he shipped from shore to shore,
from Circe & Calypso,
while she kept her nails & thread
to the wheel,
spinning his praises
as long as she could, until the fabric
ran out & our dream ended
& finally my father returned home,
dressed as a beggar,
only that was who he was—
it wasn’t a disguise.
CAVE WALL PRESS, LLC
Tory Adkisson, a Southern California native, is an MFA candidate at The Ohio
State University and edits poetry for The Journal. His poems have appeared or are
forthcoming in Cream City Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Salamander, Sou’wester,
Third Coast, and Yalobusha Review, among others.