RECONCILIATION

By David Valentine

To Ophelia,


Down the beams of moonlight racing,

South the river’s waters tracing,

Slowly by

a starless sky,

the poet rowed to where you lie.

And the air through which he ferried,

Though in solemn silence buried,

Gently grew

a harrowed hue--

your skin’s unfeeling, icy blue.

Further down the river rowing,

When the shadows, steady growing,

Swiftly fell

and let a yell--

a hollow and ferocious knell.

As he docked, he feigned ignoring

Midnight’s low and distant roaring

So to see

the place where he

had planted you an elder tree.

But the stalking shadows waited

In the fruit the tree created,

And its thin

and azure skin

belied the sickness lain therein.


Heaven hung upon his shoulder,

All the living air grew colder

As he wept

and vigil kept

beside the river where you slept.


Through the dark the cry was sweeping

And the shadows, steady creeping,

Watched with glee

while stumbled he

beneath the poison elder tree.


Yielding to the haunted dirges

And his deepest human urges--

Resolute,

the heavens mute,

he bit the blue and bitter fruit.


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