An Ancient Gesture

 

This is the only depiction I could find of a woman wiping her tears with her apron. I find that amazing.

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Here’s a poem about it by Edna Saint Vincent Millay:

An Ancient Gesture

 

I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:

Penelope did this too.

And more than once: you can’t keep weaving all day

And undoing it all through the night;

Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;

And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,

And your husband has been gone, and you don’t know where, for years.

Suddenly you burst into tears;

There is simply nothing else to do.

And I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:

This is an ancient gesture, authentic, antique,

In the very best tradition, classic, Greek;

Ulysses did this too. But only as a gesture,—a gesture which implied

To the assembled throng that he was much too moved to speak.

He learned it from Penelope…

Penelope, who really cried.

ancient-weeper

 

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