PENELOPE
Simon Armitage

Your man is long gone, and I have loitered
by your garden gate; weeded the border,
turned the soil over, waited on your word.
There is a quilt or sheet or counterpane
strung out across a tenterframe; by day
you make it, sitting in the window seat.

And you have crossed your heard and hoped
to die, promised that this cover, blanket,
bedspread, when completed, will envelop me with you

Penelope, one night last June
I came for fruit, and from the crow's nest
of the cherry tree I made you out: back
stitching one day's work, releasing knot
from thread, unhitching weft from warp from weft . . .

I dropped down from the tree and left.
That's fine. You're buying time, holding your breath,
watching , waiting for your man to show.

I'm in the garden picking you a rose.
This new strain with their frantic, crimson heads,
open now and at their very best, having dozed
all winter in a deep, rich bed, the trench
I sank one evening by the potting shed.
I mark the best bloom, take it at the neck.

 

 

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