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Gail Holst-Warhaft is considered one of the leading poets of her generation; interpreter of ancient and modern Greek life, literature and music. Her book on Rembetika music: Road to Rembetika, published first in Athens in 1975 is in it's second edition.

Penelope's Confession


Gail Holst-Warhaft

I won't say there wasn't a night

when I didn't long to let one in

but something held me back.

It wasn't love of you

but what we made together:

this boy, this home, this Ithaca.

I fill your absence with the sea

that robbed me. I hated it

at first, its pebbles radiant

when wet, when dry, dull

as seaweed or bleached wood.

Then it became my familiar;

I let it lap at my feet

imagining the same water

distant, licking your ship.

For years I held sway

not by guile but taking

my cue from your nemesis.

Calm, terrible when crossed,

I kept our estate intact

and let oafs wallow

out of their depth;

what they wasted I learned

to replenish; never still,

I oversaw each planting

of olive and vine, each mating

of bull with rutting heifer.

You never loved Ithaca

as I do. I dipped my hands

in this earth and watched it fall,

black through my fingers.

Nights, I felt it tremble

in the Earth-shaker's hands

like the boy asleep beside me

(calm, terrible when crossed)

and knew I could be faithful.

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