An open access publication of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Spring 2009

Ophelia To The Court

Meghan O'Rourke
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Meghan O'Rourke grew up in Brooklyn, where she now lives. After earning her B.A. from Yale University in 1997, she joined The New Yorker as an editorial assistant and became an editor there in 2000. In 2005 she was named poetry coeditor of the Paris Review. She is the 2005 recipient of the Union League Civil and Arts Award. Her poetry and prose have appeared in The New YorkerThe New RepublicKenyon ReviewPoetryThe New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. Her first book of poems, Halflife, was published by W. W. Norton in 2007. She is among the recipients of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences's Poetry Prize.

Ophelia To The Court

© 2009 by Meghan O’Rourke

My shoes are unpolished, my words smudged.
I come to you undressed (the lord, he whispers
smut, that man, he whispered that). I bend
my thoughts, I submit, but a bird
keeps flying out from my mind, it slippers
your feet and sings–barren world,
I have been a little minx in it, not at all
domestic, not at all clean, not at all blinking
at my lies. First he thought he had a wife, then
(of course) he thought he had a whore. All
I wanted (if I may speak again) was: more.
If only one of you had said, I hold your
craven breaking soul, I see the pieces,
I feel them in my hands, idle silver, idle gold.
You see I cannot speak without telling what I am;
I disobey the death you gave me, love.
If you must be, then be not with me.