John Everett Millais
Detail of Ophelia
Every day God pats my head and calls me
angel, his little broken woman
and gives me flowers as if I hadn't had enough of these
and I choke back my rage and he mistakes this
for distress as I stand there shaking
in my little sackcloth dress.
Had I ever had the choice
I'd have worn a very different dress,
slit from breast to navel and far too tight
and I'd have smoked and sworn and been
out of my head on drugs, not grief, and the flowers
would have been a tattoo around my ankle,
not an anchor to drag me down, and as for
being a virgin, I'd have slept with both men and women.
I would never recommend a shallow stream
and what was no more than a daisy chain
as being the ideal way to die.
It was far too pretty but I had to improvise
and I was a poet, far more so than him,
who threw out every word he ever thought
as if that might have kept his sorry life afloat.
I didn't drown by accident. I was a suicide.
At least let me call my mind my own
even when my heart was gone beyond recall.
Today, a car crash might have ben my final scene,
a black Mercedes in a tunnel by the Seine,
with no last words, no poetry,
with flashbulbs tearing at my broken body
because broken was the way I felt inside,
the cameras lighting up the wreckage of a life.
That would, at least, have been an honest way to die.