Meghan O'Rourke

Ophelia to the Court


My shoes are unpolished, my words smudged.
I come to you undressed (the lord, he whispers
smut; that man, he whispers such). I bend
my thoughts, I submit, but a bird
keeps flying from my mind, it slippers
my feet and sings—barren world,
I have been a little minx in it, not at all
domestic, not at all clean, not at all blinking
at my lies. First he thought he had a wife, then
(of course) he thought he had a whore. All
I wanted (if I may speak for myself) was: more.
If only one of you had said, I hold
Your craven breaking soul, I see the pieces,
I feel them in my hands, idle silver, idle gold…
You see I cannot speak without telling what I am.
I disobey the death you gave me, love.
If you must be, then be not with me.


"Ophelia to the Court" first appeared in Daedalus, Spring 2009, Vol. 138, No. 2, Pages 140-140.