Ophelia’s Dress

By Pamela Kenley-Meschino

Just call me Shakespeare’s 
girl. Caught between folios.
Pressed into parchment. Dropped
out of hand like a blob of fat ink.
A lost soliloquy stuffed absently
in pockets of blank verse — propping
up the end of the page. Not even
the lady’s maid, that’s me. Back
in the wings trading costumes for
merchants, soldiers and sailors clicking
nifty blades in a swish of thin steel.
Feeling the weight of unsmooth
courses, the host of interrupted
plans. Tacking remembrances over
the mantle. Checking beneath beds
for perturbéd ghosts. Combing
out tangles of over worn feelings. 
Matching cherry lips with pleasing
tongues. Polishing the prongs
of silver forks. Spitting on shoes,
while a prattle of chorus boys wrap
themselves in white gauze like Egyptian
mummies. Fielding lapwings from
ledges. Folding maps against breezes,
that’s me. Protesting too much. Peering
after retreating footsteps. Holding reins
and keys. Making legions of lunches.
Wiping noses with lacey cuffs. Buffing
up buttons. Sewing in holes against
hail the size of frozen ponds. Bending
my ears to the sound of hearts flailing
like dying stars, pieces of crushed
feathers drifting in clouds from the rim
of narrow balconies. Wringing the weeds
from Ophelia’s dress. Setting Ariel free,
that’s me. Gathering tears in little leather
pouches to spill on to the moonlit green.
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About Pamela Kenley-Meschino

Pamela Kenley-Meschino grew up in England, and many of her poems reflect her connection to the English landscape and her love of nature. She was about twelve when she wrote her first poem, when she realized the elemental magic of capturing a feeling, an event, the transient splash of life within the small space of a poem. 

She received an MA in Literature at Portland State University in Oregon where she lived with her husband and daughter for about fifteen years before moving to Long Island, New York. She currently teaches writing at Hofstra University.


  1. Otillia de Andrade
    Posted January 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink


    This is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

    The grasp of Shakespearian culture is simply tremendous!!1


  2. Marylin Schultz
    Posted December 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I have been the Assistant Director for many plays produced by a community theatre, and your poem brought many fond memories of “taking care of details” during and in-between productions! What a delightful piece; thank you!

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