Modern Penelope,
Linda McMullen

He shrugged off your caress six months ago. 

Your friends, a Sex in the City-inflected Greek chorus, sing to you:

He left.  He showed you who he is

Now show him who you are

You shouldn’t waste another hour

Indulging your regrets.


You apostrophize to the heavens, cataloguing your shameful fears: abandonment, isolation, unworthiness, and pleading to

the unhearing gods to send him back to you…

One friend plays Cassandra, prophesies that you will find someone better.

You weave and unweave the things he said, the little endearments and the bitter recriminations, with your friends, in the

shower, on blind dates.

Your friends interrupt your love-monologuing, chanting:

You are the heroine of your own life,

Not a bit player in someone else’s.


But he is bound to you, despite the miles, the sirens and the songs he’ll encounter elsewhere.  You tell yourself that you’ve

seen into the oracle; you remember that – early or late – he must come back. 


Linda McMullen is a wife, mother, diplomat, and homesick Wisconsinite. Her short stories and the occasional poem have appeared in over seventy literary magazines, and she received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations in 2020. She may be found on Twitter: @LindaCMcMullen.