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  • Writer's pictureEnchanted Conversation

The Lady of Shalott Bleeds Out by Lorraine Schein

When the boat slid before me as if waiting,

I snipped the blue thread in my wrist

with a sliver of the shattered mirror 

and with my bloodied finger

wrote my name on its stern   

so as to be remembered.


I laid down, unravelling my braids from their ivory combs.

They trailed behind me, a tangle of bright skeins

like seaweed skimming the surface.

I watched the blood flowers floating below,

a rose tapestry aswirl, embroidered on the water.


My life ebbed like the stream’s foam.

Though faint, I fought to raise my head

to gaze toward Camelot, my wrists

staining my white gown red.


Crowned with the last light,

I chanted happily, words slurred into nonsense,

serene, no more dreading the future.  


Behind me, my tower spindled

the gilt-edged brocade of clouds.

I had been most popular at court among the other ladies,

and favorite of the knights, who sought my attentions.

One lady envied me and told her mother,

a powerful witch, who trapped me in that tower

and cast the curse.


The last words I heard as I died were Lancelot’s.

Did the lady hear of them?

She has no need for another curse,

now that my doom has come to pass.


She is satisfied, but I will haunt her now.

When she looks in her mirror, I will be there:

my face cracked from side to side,

dripping blood on her reflection.

Lorraine Schein is a NY writer and poet. Her work has appeared in VICE Terraform, Strange Horizons, Scientific American, NewMyths and Michigan Quarterly, and in the anthologies Wild Women and Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana del Rey & Sylvia Plath. Her book, The Lady Anarchist Cafe, is available from Autonomedia

Image, “I am Half Sick of Shadows,” by John William Waterhouse.



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