Blanche & Ophelia

Blanche & Ophelia

truth doesn’t lie
in the voice of the gentleman she’s not expecting
nor in the one who rejects

it’s a dim half or almost whole dark shade
dawdling in the parlour or a menace in wait
outside the shuttered window
where ordinary scraps of day gather to singularities

a woman far from her self
makes no last call as a stone-laced coat takes her down
and her boa of plucked flowers and straws
breaks apart on the way to the sea
scatterings that may be one in another otherness

if only before going in
she dams the stream within
and looks over her shoulder to ask
whether a lad who thinks too much is worth it
or catches through the dropping sun
the crenellations of the nunnery he suggests

and if prescriptions are not for her
let her wash her hair such fine hair
paint her still porcelain face still young
put on a lilac jacket or something igneous for Mardi Gras
take the first trolley that comes and have as Springfresh Belle
chance meetings with strangers
perhaps among them a citified man
not royal but of good family
a man to rely on

by the indifferent water
Ophelia sees what Blanche recalls at sultry mothy dusk
each natural hour ground to damp
affected powder in the fist of solitary
each black book engagement a tableau
of too much reach for gold
narrow eyes outside a known better days hotel
and the farce of exit pursued by a bear

for who is brave to love for long an actress
who can’t tell the difference
men whose hands go everywhere uninvited
while hearts stay at work or home and heads bend
to the value they are or aren’t getting
whose notes of charity crumple on the spread?

in the veiled lamplight she craves
Blanche forgets Ophelia’s silent curtain

33 thoughts on “Blanche & Ophelia

  1. It is so good to read your work once more, John. This is a finely woven piece; the Shakespearean overtones belying the fact that this is a very relevant poem of regret, betrayal and self-doubt. Excellent writing which made me feel both sad and reflective yet also left me pondering on how we relate to one another.

  2. Mad women indeed just stepping out of the streetcar. I adore your writing, it does take me to a different time. “sultry mothy dusk”, brilliant.

  3. You cut to the core of human values and worth John. A life related with your compassion for each and every being with artistic descriptions that move andstir my soul. Ever your friend, Jon Michael.

  4. Brother John – Such an interesting weaving and contrasting of these two striking and archetypal characters. Life filled Mardi Gras and the silent stream.
    Loved the last two lines:

    in the veiled lamplight she craves
    Blanche forgets Ophelia’s silent curtain

  5. John, you often leave me at a loss for words; this reading is one of them.

    “by the indifferent water
    Ophelia sees what Blanche recalls at sultry mothy dusk
    each natural hour ground to damp
    affected powder in the fist of solitary
    each black book engagement a tableau
    of too much reach for gold
    narrow eyes outside a known better days hotel
    and the farce of exit pursued by a bear…”

    The magic of the language never escapes you. Marvelous.

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