How the PRB Affected Me

by Holly Cooley

He had Millais' drowned woman
Hung above his bed.
She crept into my dreams
When I slept there.

I dreamt of water:
A childhood dream returned
Of a bathtub overflowing
And drowning me.

I dreamt I was 'Guggums'
Posing in the warm bath for hours.
My skin became puffed and traced
By water-wrinkles, ugly.
No one gave a thought to my ordeal:
The painting was named Ophelia,
Not Elizabeth.

Anyhow, the activity was good
In the bed under the corpse
So I stayed until other things drove me away.
The memory of his face blurs
While hers, dead, sticks in my mind.
Now and then I dream of bathtubs and water.

I think about the daffodils that were painted out
And what her face must have really looked like
Mad and soaked
The unnatural float
The eyes too wide
And the mouth parched,
No song.

Holly Cooley Holly lives with her husband, two dogs and a cat on Paradise Island in Florida’s panhandle. Given half a chance, she will talk endlessly about William Morris & the Pre- Raphaelites, the focus of her PhD dissertation. Her poems have been published by Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and Dragons, Knights & Angels.

Favorite fruit: black raspberries.

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