by Martin Porter
It has been an angry winter. Deep blue horizons shudder beneath deeper clouds. Hoar shattered twigs twist upward where they fell, grasping for an unrelenting mercy. Grey mists float upon the solid surface of a brook. Sunlight collapses like snow from the leaden dawn.
Ophelia kicks the sodden leaves, scuttling the life that dares remain, curses the dead pendant birds hanging from a tree. She bends to flick a desiccated lizard, twisted like apple peel, stranded out of season, skidding it across the icy pond.
She is the frozen maiden; wrapped in wool, feet in dubbined leather boots and warm woollen socks, fleece wicking moist breath from her skin. She loathes this shattered season, loves the astringency of incinerating summers sweating all to withering point. With sensitivity intruding on impossibility, she crushes a branch of dried memories in her fist. Filagreed by frosted strawberry hair, her unhooded face is ablaze, her lips a deep crimson ember.
Cold in her furnace fury, she mutters:
“Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.1”
She stares at the landscape and stares through the landscape, viewing her reflection flowing in the stream serene beneath the ice.
Grieve for her, bitter as the freeze-dried dock leaves trampled by her feet.
Creeping horrors grow with the restoration of a fragile sun in the frail spring. Her fallen autumn fruit, bitten and discarded, rot and germinate like her own emergent corpse.
1 (Sylvia Plath “Lady Lazarus”)
Ophelia Redux was first printed in Issue 1 of Bare Fiction Magazine (December 2013).