Thursday, March 22, 2007
PT: A Picture, A Picture
'BY GIS AND BY SAINT CHARITY'
In this book
There was a picture
Of fair, mad Ophelia
Floating face up, trailing daisies:
On another page: The Rape
Of Lucretia, startled hand to throat,
Round breasts fallen over her bodice
Like white May pears.
Somewhere dark Othello
And that poor Jew Shylock
Protested in blacker
The pictures drew me.
The words were partly understood,
Underscored by my
Splayed young fingers across the paper.
Now I trail ink-stained daisies
Of my own, sing mad songs,
Demand my pound of flesh,
Across remoter spaces between years
And wait for whirling obsidian waters
To have me,
To carry this
And cut it into stars.
Picture: Ernest Hebert, Ophelia, c. 1910. (Actually this poem came from illustrations in a book of Shakespeare that my parents owned. The book itself is long gone, but as a child I was fascinated by the pictures and looked at them often.)