(The Queen of Carthage, generation 3)
By the time he’s returned home, she’s killed them all:
the Queen, poisoned, her mouth stuffed full
of larkspur and love lies bleeding;
the King in his bed, stabbed bloody,
dogsbane and yellow gentian laced between his fingers.
She looks up when her door slips aside,
in the middle of a room splashed all over red, up her arms and in her hair;
the smell of iron and shit drifts, inert, between them.
She’s been at her work a long time;
there is asphodel scattered at her feet;
honeysuckle, rust streaked and ragged, hangs round her neck.
His little sister smiles to see him
(lovely sister, in her hydroponics lab,
sweet in love and fluent in her flowers),
and offers him the prince’s, her lover’s, head,
streaked with blood and crowned with morning glory.
Larkspur – fickleness
Love lies bleeding – hopeless, not heartless
Dogsbane – deceit, falsehood
Yellow gentian – ingratitude
Asphodel – my regrets follow you to the grave
Honeysuckle – generous and devoted affection
Morning glory – extinguished hopes
copyright 2016 by Laura E. Price. Feel free to link to this piece, but please don’t reproduce it without permission.
The husband read this and said, “Well, that’s sufficiently creepy,” and the Evil Twin enabled me, and here we are with Ophelia and Laertes on a generation ship.
I think there may be more poems in this cycle, but it took me three years to get this one to a point where I felt all right with posting it, so …