Ophelia started her singing again,

and the Queen was inclined to be anxious:

nothing, of course, could persuade her

to just knock it off: that Swiss finishing school

had advised her she had a fine voice,

and the corridors echoed with 'Willow Tit Willow'.

Gilbert and Sullivan - well, it surprised us,

of course - I mean, that fellow Gilbert…


Later, she went for a swim, as she used to do

after a few tall sloe gins - and of course

some damn fool at the school had said

she had some style. Free-style, of course,

wasn't what she did well, and the weather

was nippy: result - there were flowers

all round the chinoiserie. Everyone thought

it was tasteful, and Kierkegaard preached

about being resigned, and the coffin swam off

like a boat in a flower-filled stream.


Her mother, of course, went to pieces,

and afterwards ordered a Thorvaldssen bust

for the hall, - but he worked from a photo.


We missed her, of course, at the Flapper's Ball,

though round the palace for weeks

at least things were more peaceful.


 Michael Sharkey © 1998

PO Box 513 Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia

- from The Way It Is: Selected Poems, 1984

(Darling Downs Institute Press, Toowoomba, Qld)


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