Ophelia

Stephen Gibson Click to read more...

sgibsonStephen Gibson is the author of five poetry collections: Rorschach Art Too (2014 Donald Justice Prize, West Chester University),  Paradise (Miller Williams Prize finalist, University of Arkansas Press, 2011), Frescoes (Lost Horse Press book prize, 2009), Masaccio’s Expulsion (MARGIE/Intuit House book prize, 2006), and Rorschach Art (Red Hen, 2001).   His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry.  His collection in progress is “The Garden of Earthly Delights, A Scrambled Abecedarian.”

You would think the drowning girl would save herself
but she’s not drowning in Millais’s bath water—
she’s a twenty-two-year-old model posing as Ophelia

in winter, and has put all of her worries on a shelf
to float in his tub. She’ll have a stillborn daughter
in ten years with Dante Rossetti, who will find her

overdosed in bed, drowning on laudanum
(she’ll have her stomach pumped, but it won’t save her)—
and here she is, high as a kite singing in bath water

with Millais thinking she’s clowning around with him
when she’s drowning.

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