logo


ERIN ELIZABETH SMITH

Penelope

First, I planted hyacinth in the courtyard,
pruning the wayward petals, which lilted
at my over-attendance, my slick, heavy watering can.

Next, I made robes for your father, brushing the velvet
'til it was colt-soft and bright. Polished the buttons,
weaved gold into his yellow cords.

In the fifteenth year, I took to oils, making the fine strokes
of my tedium into your distant ship. I painted you
a thousand ways, falling from the mast, the prow,

from the ocean into the even ebb of Styx.
Then my doorbell took to sounding
I was forced to replace the welcome mat

with "Beware of Dog". But they persisted,
revived my gardens, dry-cleaned the robes,
auctioned my mid-day sketches for kingdoms, armies.

I took to tapestry only then to dissuade
their ardent verse, their gracious doors and coats.
This I loved though the goldfish

of my hands slipping the weave. Creating
a cape of scenery, a story of thread.
I was patient with my unraveling, promising

once I finished this, my centerpiece, my heart
of cotton, I would take another from the sea
a strange jellyfish, a bright and foreign conch.

Then when you did arrive with your exultation
of flag, scented of wine and women, I was
the first to welcome you, with an albatross

shot from the sea, two arms at the ledge.
And now that you're back, turning in my bed, eating
with your fingers, grabbing my thighs in sleep again,

I have left the waiting for the tired
sun, papering our house with tapestries,
finishing everything I begin.



Erin Elizabeth Smith is a PhD candidate at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi where she serves as editor-in-chief of Stirring and founder of Sundress Publications. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Third Coast, Crab Orchard, West Branch, Willow Springs, Natural Bridge, Gulf Stream, Good Foot, Slipstream, Bellingham Review, and Reed Magazine among others. (erin@sundress.net)



Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761