When my mother turned seventy a year and a half ago, the occasion coincided with my rotation in the Good Letters blog. My post to mark the milestone was titled “Telemachus to Penelope,” the title of a poem I had written for my mother in the wake of her divorce from my father after thirty-three years of marriage.
My poem, inspired by Joseph Brodsky’s “Odysseus to Telemachus” and written soon after college, was pretty awful in hindsight, but the title was perfect in that my mother, Penelope, shares her name with the Grecian archetype of faith and fidelity. The idea, if not the execution, was that her Odysseus had wandered far and wide (even longer than the original) while living under the same roof.
My father had never seen the poem, and given his toddling ways on the Internet coupled with my vain insistence that it was my family’s job to track the blog, not mine to apprise them, I knew the boomerang of “Telemachus to Penelope” had little chance of hitting him when I threw it into cyberspace.