ophelie sold me
her poems, ten cents
a piece, "otherwise
i'll burn 'em", she said.
too cheap, i thought, 
sorting through her stack.

i'd asked once about
her name, and she'd
said, "ophelie is 
after ophelia, she who
drowned of love.  but 
i'm the one who got 
away."  her mother
had sunk into the
blue depths of motherhood, then 
floated as a felled log
in the missouri.  her 
name had been a lifesaver thrown
ahead of her.  "ophelie
is for ascendancy, the birth
my mother gave, still."

and though she is surrounded 
by water — pressure of a thousand
meters of nights under her father's
bed — almost ready to close 
in: she fends off the water
with her poems, tossed so
casually one after another
as if scattering flowers
to form a ring which
preserves her life.