2. Ophelia

Ophelia, sweet child, dominated by powerful men
Abandoned to grief and madness
Her last moments, a watery slip
May have been unintended consequence
Or dire injury
Consecrated – and yet we wonder
Who is culpable?

A modern woman now faces
The same pernicious forces
That may divide her from her own precious reason
Professor of mathematics, her intellect, ratiocinative,
Attempts to quantify the carrying capacity of the earth
What can it hold, nurture, sustain
Without ruin, lack of renewal,
Or toxic inundation?

Her losses, both great and universal
Small and specific
Her shame-filled love
Will serve as the crucible
Over which her sanity may be fractured

4. Death Enters the Room

There is only a vague sense impression
Of all that came before
Her husband’s violent death.
His cataleptic rigidity a necrotic grimace,
Creating shock
From which she does not recover

Contrasting the trauma with an inevitable process of biology
Entropy claims its dominance
Through programmed cell death
As 50-70 billion cells die within the body each day,
Expressions in the art of disintegration

Ophelia had not considered this internal suicide
Impermanence unsettled her.
Universal forces destroy with uncostly effort –
Endosymbionts inducing a biochemical cascade,
Release of caspase activators of annihilation

What then of the symbolic ends?
Thoughts, feelings, relationship
She could not push away the concepts
Handle the nuance of shade
Mourning each permutation
Uncomfortable with the intensity of emotion
The finality of the funeral.

6. Deep Grief

Death entered the rooms of her soul,
Unwelcome and alien
Permeated the air
Sleep was her only comfort,
The denial of dreams
Truth returned each morning, aching
Nothing in her waking hours could drive it away
Time had betrayed her –
No solace gained through its passing

The memory of life before became distant
The memory of her love transfigured into a specter;
A cruel trick

She could feel the world
Slipping from her mind
Meaning drained from her face,
Replaced with an effigy:
Becoming the object of her own scorn
Confusion lined her eyes,
Now emptied of other expression

In the recesses of her secret self she began to be afraid
Not of death, stalking her thoughts, but insanity
A far greater apprehension –
Death is certain,
Sanity not so fixed!

The onset of madness,
Robbing her lucidity, was subtle,
A slow and silent poison
It weighed upon her as if tangible, haunting her
The connection between her innermost being
And the outer world dissolving –
She began mimicking his death.

Notes: These excerpts are from my epic, Mere Beasts, which can be found here: http://chromapoesy.com/2011/07/18/mere-beasts-an-epic/ Sections 2 and 6 were already posted but Section 4 was written today for NaPoWriMo day 14.

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