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  • Hannah Hinsch

Ophelia: A Poem


Bemired, your neck strangled with lobelias,

I see your pallor staring starkly back at me

from every swimming hole, from every pool, Ophelia.

-“The Broken Doll,” Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (translated from Irish)

Willow branches scratched

wrists and dug deep

into that empty space

reserved for your

midnight-sweat, when

your hot doubts

exhaled poison and

plundered my virgin-breath

until it came in gasps.

I wove the garland

with my own hands

that would anoint the

crown of your head

and call you mine—

possession at a

queenly pinnacle

of gossamer veils and

stolen kisses

by the poolside.

When I fell, I thought it was

to you. My sleeves

bore me up and

I called to you in a

siren-song of broken bells,

a screeching bridal prayer

bemired with mud,

hair streaming like ribbons

in the pool’s glassy eye.

But you didn’t come.

Flowers wept,

columbines bending to

touch my outstretched hand.

Savior-prince, where were you

when the withered violets

rippled alongside me,

when I tumbled from the

foot of the bed and

gained luminescent gills?

I sank into the lake of your

princely mind,

swam for shore in a

trail of lapis lazuli

and went

unquietly.

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