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PENELOPE'S SONG By Louise Glck

April 29, 2001

Little soul, little perpetually undressed one,

do now as I bid you, climb

the shelf-like branches of the spruce tree;

wait at the top, attentive, like

a sentry or look-out. He will be home soon;

it behooves you to be

generous. You have not been completely

perfect either; with your troublesome body

you have done things you shouldn't

discuss in poems. Therefore

call out to him over the open water, over the bright water

with your dark song, with your grasping,

unnatural song--passionate,

like Maria Callas. Who

wouldn't want you? Whose most demonic appetite

could you possibly fail to answer? Soon

he will return from wherever he goes in the meantime,

suntanned from his time away, wanting

his grilled chicken. Ah, you must greet him,

you must shake the boughs of the tree

to get his attention,

but carefully, carefully, lest

his beautiful face be marred

by too many falling needles.

From "Anthology of Modern American Poetry," edited by Cary Nelson (Oxford University Press: 1,250 pp., $45 paper)

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