My dearest Ophelia,
you and I are the same.
Pouring love down the throats
of men who spit our nectar back at us,
Licking their plates of affection clean
trying to taste something other
Balancing sanctity and sexuality
purity and promiscuity –
We wear white because our lovers
used to call us angel
Opening our arms
to try and fill ourselves with something
to not feel so empty
Stuffing flowers down into our lungs so
maybe we can catch a whiff of what it feels
like to be wanted,
Clawing at closed doors and willing them to open
(Sliding poetry underneath them when they
Floating on our backs in rivers because
drowning seems a lot easier than living,
Glowing with such ardour and beauty that everyone
sees us as stars with galaxies in our eyes
I don’t think they realized that stars
just as we are
We were lost long before our bodies were
cold and scarred
Breathless with a heartbeat,
No pulse but somehow still love to give
Lusting after destruction because
it’s all we’ve ever known,
(Destroying ourselves in the end because
we learn by example)
Reading road maps with no sense of direction
Kissing petals and hiding rosemary for
we have learnt that loveliness is really a curse
Singing to ourselves because
someone should have the pleasure of
hearing our voices
even if the words are not our own
My dearest Ophelia,
I see you.
I see you every time a boy calls my mouth pretty
and then asks me to close it
I see you every time I want to say
“I love you”
and choose to leave instead
I see you whenever I wake up with the imprint
of a body next to me and pretend to have
no recollection of the night before
because I was too deluded to think straight
and too broken to bear the truth
(My lips still taste like him)
I feel you in my bones when I pry
desire ridden fingers off my legs
Hear you humming in my ear at night when I dream
that the ocean has swallowed me whole and
I don’t know whether to be afraid
Crave your presence when nobody understands
the enigma that is my mind
I think perhaps our souls are sisters
but even my love for you is unrequited
And though I wish it wasn’t the truth,
because I like to see the world through
rose coloured lenses,
you and I are the same.
This poem was a culmination of my feelings and emotions while reading Hamlet and studying the character of Ophelia. It is only recently that I have discovered our similarities. I think I used to be very much like Ophelia. And though I have changed and evolved, the idea of destruction is still seductive to me, and I haven’t quite figured out why.
Through a woman’s perspective, Ophelia’s sexuality has always intrigued me. I could never figure out whether or not she had given herself to Hamlet, and after reading far too much on the subject, my interpretation is that she had. I think part of her madness was this relentless battle in balancing her pure image while trying to appease the men around her, especially Hamlet. She was almost living vicariously through their perceptions of her, which were so often conflicting and filled with uncertainty.
I see myself in her far more than I’d like to admit. There is such a parallel between loving and accepting her character and starting to love and accept myself for all my failures and all my mistakes, especially romantically.
2 thoughts on “Lust for Destruction”
This poem made me quite emotional–in the best way possible, of course. Emotional, because its tragedies are relatable. It represents a universal suffering we have all suffered–or will eventually suffer–at some point in our lives: heartbreak in the form of unrequited love. Far too often do we find our sweetness, our hopeful romanticism, negated by the ones we love, the ones who, as you put it, “spit our nectar back at us.” “Loveliness is a curse” because people take advantage of loveliness, of innocence. And I think sometimes we, deliberating our own worth (or lack thereof) in the presence of heartbreak, also choose to negate our softness much like the ones who broke us. Because where has our softness truly done for us?–it surely doesn’t spare us from the heartbreak. I believe heartbreak is capable of hardening us; and suddenly, we are forced to make a choice between loveliness and harshness, something I felt you highlighted in the lines “Balancing sanctity and sexuality/purity and promiscuity”
I am honestly at a loss for words–this is an absolutely BRILLIANT piece. Love the lines, “I see you every time I want to say/“I love you”/and choose to leave instead.” This reminds me of what I had written on the diploma exam on Thursday for the critical. In my essay, I explained how, when Hamlet had denounced his love for Ophelia, she made no attempt to challenge him, to advocate for his love, most likely because she was afraid that he would further separate himself from her. She could have said “I love you” but she “chose to leave instead.” I just thought that was an interesting parallel between both of our thoughts regarding Ophelia and love/heartbreak itself. Again, this reiterates just how relatable this poem is.
That said, I don’t really think I have anything to offer in terms of improvements. Like. At all. Maybe some more analysis at the end, as I am intrigued by your ideas. But other than that, I don’t have anything else to suggest.
Absolutely beautiful, Alysha. It was an honour reading this!
Lots of love,
I love you so much – your Ophelia writing inspires me immensely. Thank you for reading this piece. I can’t wait to read more of your new blog!