Ophelia

All summer long
she kept herself immaculate for him,
waiting on the pauses
when he would turn aside his rage

and speak more tenderly,
as if remembering
the territories of love
that existed in the comfortable,
sane and unspoken,
gesturing in flowers
and walks in shaded gardens by a stream

Harder for him, she thought,
like free verse or a vocation’s call;
no intuition learned at the breast
can give him what I know
and what he needs to know

Thus, surefootedly,
she marked her days:
the path by the brook
and her father’s rooms in court

But her gentleness made less easy
things that might have swayed him
back into his first passion,
resting as it did
so heavy on the shoulders of his grief

Blurring his resolve,
blunting and distracting him
into a unity
he thought he could ill afford:
the lover’s whispered poison in the ear

So she, unaware
that difference could exist
between speech and meaning,
intention and thought,
and thus without either
redemption or metaphor
with which she could betray him back,
betrayed herself instead

Paradoxically making herself
more real, it seemed,
by her chosen isolation
among her water-mirrored selves

Despite the weakly choking death
all later representations afford,
this was no girl smitten beyond a cure;
the woman falls deliberately
to death’s baptismal waters,
and rises, swan-like,
singing from her rest

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