Do not search here for any woman grown:
the eager trill, the trusting wing, the lock.
Arch and sing, Ophelia, soon to know,
the hand that strokes the hen killed the cock.
Behold the little sparrow, riven, cold,
Entwined in sodden silk and vines of green,
Bright shackles slithered down to bank from bough,
To bind her hollow bones and blue-green dreams.
So bear her from the river to the sea,
So cover tight her ears with fallen gold,
But still the traitor heart–what has it need
of flowering shields? Prince Hamlet was too bold
with mannish oaths, far sharper than the sword
he sheathed aside quick hands with late-learned rest,
But drew the reckless tongue and loosed the word:
The careless arrow pierced her flightless breast.
Now fancy on the flood enthroned the girl,
Who never will be crowned a prince’s wife:
The modest feather weds the murky pearls,
And sinks to ground–poor vengeance’s sacrifice.
(Originally published in The Lyric Magazine, Spring 2018)