Ophelia owns them—-
A brace of bracelets, an
Alphabet of exploration.
Like boats looking as if they are
About to go over
The edge of
Oceans. Never-return. Bracelets
Were Ophelia. And still are—-
Full circle belonged to queens. Shakespeare himself had
One, Elizabeth the first, who sent Sir Francis Drake around the globe
To circumnavigate. He did. She sent Sir Walter Raleigh to make
Quickie loops between England and Virginia, to make colonies.
He tried. Then in the last years of Elizabeth, Shakespeare and his
Men brought their Globe theater
To Elizabeth, to her rooms, and there put on Hamlet.
(Celebrating Hamlet who circumnavigated, also: Hamlet
Circumnavigated his mother.)
Fairy tales begin with circles, that letter O:
Another old story began with O.
There is a part of a man’s body called the corona, or crown
If you insist. And when we insist upon leaving our
Mothers, we crown at birth, leaving
Hamlet’s story also ended with an O:
The last one left to tell the tale: Horatio.
But Ophelia was a colony, her ratio and rations
She must have
Bound her wrists, with their
Blue half-secret rivers of blood
With wound ripples of reeds—-bindweed, too—
Fairyland mumble of rue, willow rumpuses
Must have circled her
Hamlet’s disappearance of grip.
Leafing and releafing promises,
That’s how Hamlet drove her mad and how even
Hamlet was driven mad: each promise
Slipping around the corner of the earth like boats.
Intent for stores of bargaining spices, defiant salt,
Dust between barrels proof of travel:
But coming back stocked
With madmen, penguins dying,
Trees with carved desperate directions
That never led to Roanoke;
Salt depletion, all the fruit
Pretty on a Thursday
Gone to a perfection of rot.
Refusing the cold ocean men fight about,
The cold wells dug for women,
Ophelia turned to what
Could hold her pretty in
Her death—-she would have her revenge,
A river, with her hair like braiding
Chasing each other,
As in the beauty of branches, of trees.
The promise of continuation:
Hamlet was bright,
He had nimble shoes,
See that mockery of continuation:
The stream going on,
The branches growing on,
The trees going on,
The pretty night,
But not Ophelia.
And his promising bracelets—
They return round back to her like his laugh,
The sarcasm of bracelets,
Because when the bend turned in the bracelet
It rounded the bend
It like Ophelia looked for Hamlet’s eager
Loving face: but it came back another metal:
One for prisoners:
Fresh and future grief,
Rebecca Pyle lives on what was once the lakebed of the then-much-greater Great Salt Lake in the United States. Her oil paintings, and a photograph of her hundred-foot-long rock garden, full of large boulders and Russian sage, can be seen at rebeccapyleartist.wordpress.com. As an undergraduate she won first prizes in all three writing competitions sponsored then by her English department. She was once runner-up in The National Poetry Competition in the United Kingdom, a competition sponsored by BBC2 and The Poetry Society. (An Irish poet the winner.) A short poem by Rebecca will be published soon in The Healing Muse, a journal of arts and writing published by New York medical universities. She has lived in Kansas, California, Alaska, London, and New York, but has never travelled to India. Alas. In Salt Lake City, she is a member of The King’s English Bookstore writing group.