It was an old toll bridge
built of thick river stones,
like a castle upon the ridge
with many ruined thrones.
Overgrown with lichen and moss,
it overlooked the river’s flow,
the wood bridge once used to cross
now fallen far below.
Ants crawled among the roots
that twined the rocks pliantly
and, there, among the green shoots,
snakes slithered silently.
A tree-topped twilight shaded
the cavity of the broken tooth,
the Summer sunlight faded
beneath the foliaged roof.
And hidden between the nooks
of the masonry that now remains
are soggy playboy books
ruined by relentless rains.
Ophelia! Ophelia! The blooming maiden at rest
with her hands clutching rosemary to her burdened breast,
guided down this babbling brook, both gentle and strong,
with Undine eddies to sooth and usher her along
beyond the whitewater past, awash in the heart
afield of a dead father, lost lover, brother apart.
Let those figures in the rocky froth fight fierce no more
for she knows now the peace which neither nun nor whore
may find in Heaven, nor in Hell, however it please them
while men pull hither and thither, by hair, sleeve and hem.
Whether by method or madness, whichever Man may bring,
this girl lays in a sweet silence, or else she must sing
the songs of Lost Love and the songs of her Sorrow,
down the brook you go! Nevermore rue tomorrow…
The shepherdess is out of breath
while gathering wool beneath an overborne sun,
stooping near the Valley of the Shadow of Death
to gather armfuls while the lambs, nearby, run,
and though memories are warm and soft
against her sagging, mottled breasts
they weigh too much to hold aloft
and so she sits with them a-lap, while she rests;
her legs dangling over that dark valley of mystery
and, gazing down, she wonders how far is the fall,
but thinking the fleece will cushion her misery
she leans forward, into that shady pall…