THEY SAY ITHACA ISN'T THE ONLY PLACE WHERE HUSBANDS DON'T COME HOME
And still she murmurs like a good wife,
a good dog, sweet things as if the outside
and its wind of knives and fluorescence
never parted you. Somehow, you were
present enough to kiss our foreheads but
not look us in the eye. To hold our hands
but not to kindle them. Did you fear the land
that wanted to keep you, graceless under
the grass? Did you fear the people who were
always the shovel? Your son waits with his tongue
held between his teeth. He leaves to return,
carrying his manhood in his mouth. He doesn’t make
promises, keeps love where nobody can see it.
Come home alone and I will be more forgiving.
Come home and Ithaca will hang a melody
across the sky, ease the sirens away, our beds
warm. She will fill your name in her lungs instead
of air. Don’t give yourself to what keeps you away
from us, you and your spit of salt and mistakes
in your god’s palace. You don’t have to pray
for something to drown in when you are human.
We surrender to white foam and little bites
that eat away at our skin. The waves you have loved
pounce at my feet like animals and still I carve
a love note across the beach over and over
as the crystal flows violently to take the place
of my fingers. It laps it up, sunlight at its back,
and rolls over like a good dog. The dog used to winning
games, best at playing dead, belly up and floating.