Nobody knows my name. We
are the ones left behind
We wait

We weave. We celebrate and grieve. Olive
trees grow and bloom. Some years
the ripe fruit falls and stains the stones

We watch the waves. Spring
makes orchards burst. In fall
unpicked fruit rots in rows


The dust creeps in
everywhere, the sand
there is no end of sweeping

keeping outside out
inside in. There is no end
of polishing and guilty laughter

Evenings bring a sort of sadness
meals taken in private, whispered
conversations, abruptly hushed


I was lonely then too
lonely as Penelope, lonely
as only a sister can be

And though honor is in
my name — value — I
am not the one

they will sing about
how I spent my days —
no one noticed


When he returned — silly
disguise, a goddess on his shoulder —
to his patient wife

the orderly castle
polished spears in a polished rack
as if it were all a dream . . .

he did not ask to see me. Brother
King, he took with him my husband —
mother followed soon after

I see them only
in glimpses of filtered light
on the backs of waves



Odysseus’ sister. Ctimene is mentioned only once in Homer’s Odyssey, in a brief reference in Book XV. A much shorter, earlier version of this poem appeared in Cathexis Northwest Press in August 2020.


Noah B. Salamon