National Poetry Writing Month 2018, Day 18

The prompt for Day 18 was easy to follow. The poem I used for my line-by-line backwards response was ‘Ophelia’ from Janée J. Baugher’s book Coördinates of Yes.

Ophelia’s tears

The emptiness is the hardest part
these hands won’t bring death to flowers
but won’t let them grow

In defiance, they ignore me

I push air through my lips, eyes closed
the blur is complete, detail gone
auburn scent grown stale

I once battled the vines without success
they flowed like current unfettered by breakers
overwhelming the willows
which, really, never stood a chance

Sometimes I think the inevitable is a leech
draining the colors from life
water from leaves and skin

Under cover of encroaching dark
a shroud is left at the foot of the bed

There’s almost nothing left now
the bouquet on the dresser has lost its fragrance
escaped through the crack of light under the door

Nettles and stalks of reed
submerge with the rising creek

Lifeboat remnants float by
poised to sink
wrapped in their watery shrouds

(18 April 2018)


  1. “these hands won’t bring death to flowers
    but won’t let them grow”

    That is just magical. Lovely writing!

  2. magical indeed.
    “There’s almost nothing left now” is like a hammer to the head. (K)

  3. Beautiful! Grabs me by the heart. I’ve never thought about it this way, but the inevitable is indeed, a leech. The shroud at the foot of the bed gives me chills.

    • Thanks. I was surprised by the direction and tone the poem took, but that happened to be how I responded to the lines of the poem I was looking at. (That and a few edits before posting.)

  4. Update 4/19/18: As it turned out, Janée J. Baugher was one of the featured poets at a reading I went to tonight (I knew this before I went), so not only did I get to have her sign my copy of the book in which her poem appears, but also I was able to share a copy of my poem with her. So yay!

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