Ophelia’s Childhood

She talked before she walked,

she learned her letters with her older brother,

she tasted music as if coloured light

playing her tunes for swallows and the sky,

singing things below audible sound.


The sort of child that pitied kittens,

the creatures caught in snare traps,

she’d go a-Maying with the dairy maids

come home with armfuls of bright foam, or

work intricate things in linen and gold lace.


She learned obedience at her father’s hands.

Apart from her irrational fear of water

little perturbed her till her girlhood friend

was spoiled by a soldier and went into her grave;

in innocence she recognised what guilty meant,


she wore her white dress with a woollen shawl

she played and sang her multi-coloured songs

danced in the meadow with the shadow of herself,

did as she was told. She was either biddable

or wild or both and childhood left her in a single day.

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