Song of Penelope
Jeremy Fernando, Girl, interrupted, 2018
the men come in packs.
you are not unfamiliar with their
slobbering gaze. their nails are sharp
so are their teeth; tearing into
any soft supple flesh found in
your home. your son unravels
under their tongues, chasing after
the shadow of the man once favoured by gods.
you sit and weave.
everything falls into place under
it is not love for your husband
that keeps you weaving.
each morning, the sun slips into
the cloth; and each night,
the moon slips away; and in between,
threads of thoughts stitch them together.
by nightfall, the veil stains red.
your son crawls into bed,
belongs to the distant past.
the wind carries your name.
you wonder if his name still
fits inside your mouth, or
will it fall apart?
you whisper for outis as
wolves fall in your hall. you
watch your son grow, blossom,
take on his father’s name —
a father blessed
is a son cursed.
the pack is culled. no one
questions the deaths of drunks.
no one doubts the whimpering
you have always liked the sea. staring
out, you think you see a glimpse
of him, his ship, a homecoming.
but there isn’t a home to return
to. you take the country by her
collar, and love her as a mother would.
they sing to you, the sirens — claim
you for their own. the apple doesn’t
fall far from the tree, they say.
you are crafted from our flesh.
peel back your skin, there, touch the folds,
you can feel the song stuck within — tell
me, when you hear their song, is it not
home you see?
— Ella Wee, 2018
Ella Wee is a writer and poet, and is based in Singapore.
a version of ‘Song of Penelope’ was first published in Jeremy Fernando, Writing Skin. Singapore: Delere Press, 2020: 96-96.