Emily Anderson - Jen Morris

A note on this text: To connect the warrior Odysseus’s wanderings with the global flows of people, resources and pollution that characterize food production and distribution under late capitalism, samples come from the Fagles’ translation of The Odyssey and are taken from a variety of sources, including news reports, corporate websites and advertisements.



Penelope

I.

Meanwhile, heartbreak overwhelms the queen.
She has plenty of chairs, but can’t sit down;
her husband and son are nowhere to be found

Then two faces beautifully surface from the water
The view from her window holds all things dear to her,
a weaver’s every treasure, light, shade, color

pattern, interference, oscillation, reiteration.
Then two faces beautifully surface from the water
Gods, hear me now, and recognize my voice

says the queen while the faces sink
in the bright sea. It is as if a human form
could emerge from light.

Thus it is as if a human form could emerge from something else.
Gods, hear me now, and recognize my voice.

II.

Meanwhile, the journalist asks,
Of those you know who have already died of the disease, how many have worked in the sugar fields?
The journalist asks, have you ever seen anyone die?
The journalist asks, is it really heat that’s killing them?
The journalist asks the driver to stop.
Whose responsibility is supplying the safety gear?
What does the protective gear cost?
How many of your men have got sick from doing this work?
Have you been checked?
Do you work in the sugar fields, too?
The journalist asks about rice, about cassava, about a hectare.
The journalist asks, did the survey include any questions about dehydration?
The journalist wonders if this “initial damage” to the kidneys could be agrochemical
          poisoning, then asks how parents feel, sending their youngsters to work the
          cane.