Kathleen Hellen

she can never altogether sink

After Millais’ Ophelia

Ophelia by John Everett Millais

She does not suck her thumb, as one incapable…nor hang suspended from the sliver snapped, headbanging glassy surfaces. Nor bless as aspersorium for those who feel too much the lay of hamlets. Not wisped with straw to broom the madness, her hair disheveled, dull against the yellow daisies cluster-drunk. Instead: See fantastic garlands. The bloated floral of her dress a cup of rarity. The gossamer a mirror for columbine and rue. Long purples. Was it June? Poetical, Poe might have said. Maid no more and cold but highly fragrant, crushed. Pink bud against the vacant stare.


About the writer:
Kathleen Hellen’s honors include prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, and her winning collection Umberto’s Night (Washington Writers’ Publishing House). Her work was featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. Hellen’s latest poetry collection is The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin (Saddle Road Press).

Image: Ophelia by John Everett Millais (1821-1896). Oil on canvas. 30 x 44 inches. 1851-52. Public domain.