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"Ophelia, Attending a Garden on the Ground Floor of a Vancouver Apartment Building" by Ruth Daniell

Ruth Daniell won the Shakespeare Selfie competition in the 19+ category. Congratulations Ruth!

Here is her present-day soliloquy for Ophelia from Hamlet.

"Ophelia, Attending a Garden on the Ground Floor of a Vancouver Apartment Building"
By Ruth Daniell

I’ve been feeling better since the seasons changed.
I think the depression’s linked to these grey winters
we have. Look at the new green of my rhododendron.
It’s stopped blooming already. Finished early
spring. Soft pink freckled flowers that stretched
out, a little, like spread fingers, like my hands now.
I don’t know what it means.
There doesn’t seem to be any significance
to rhododendrons—they just grow well here
on the West Coast. The hostas are happy,
too, getting big. Almost geometric, their edges
embroidered with white, their centres deep green,
their stems clear curves coming out of the soil.
Isn’t it amazing that they seem to die,
they disappear completely in the winter
so I am almost convinced they were never there—
but then, come April, they spring up again,
proud as young princes, breaking up the brown earth.
They were once gifts from Gertrude’s garden.
I don’t think she clipped them herself. She has gardeners.
She lives in a big windowed house near the university,
backyard overlooking the ocean, and sunlight,
sunlight for rose bushes. I’ve got this north-facing
patio, that’s all. And hydrangeas. Hydrangeas,
they say, are for frigidness, for heartlessness. Either that,
or heartfelt gratitude for being understood. I don’t know
what kind of hydrangeas I’ve got. One of the plants
is ready to bloom: that’s at least the size it was
last year, maybe bigger, thriving. This other one
is shrunken, most of its nutrients stolen
by that frilly bush by the fence. The perennials fascinate me,
flowers, how they reproduce themselves, how useless
virginity is to their ever-new beauty. They are all mothers
and they are all nuns, pushing out of the earth in their
colourful habits. Listen. That’s the upstairs neighbours
fighting again. I can often hear them yelling at each other,
or making love. The noises of love are distressing. Pray you,
love, remember. I’ll plant rosemary again. Mint for tea.
Would you have a glass of wine? Laertes brought
some bottles from France. I often have a glass
when I’m out here. It helps to block out the traffic
from Broadway, the whining of the neighbourhood’s cats
hunting for robins. Annuals? Oh, I favour marigolds,
petunias, forget-me-nots. I have some exotic strains
of daisies that seem to do well. I can’t get violets to stay.
But pansies do, that’s for thoughts. No, really,
have some wine. It’s quite good. Stay.


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