A Poem for Ophelia

Originally Posted: July 25th, 2014
Updated: January 25th, 2020

Last month, I was lucky enough to meet and type for several members of the San Fernando Valley’s Junior Roller Derby team. I loved typing for each of the girls. Kristine, Ophelia’s mom, sent me these pictures.


Ophelia–also known as “Killer Rabbit”–is the one in the blue #15 helmet. That evening, she moved in a way that reminded me of my younger self. An untouched sure-footedness which, I think now, stems from being blessed & oblivious of your own confidence. It’s something tough. Lasting. The aura before you discover what awkwardness really means.

She sat in the chair slightly hunched over, legs parted and arms steadied by knees. It’s an active stance I recognized from my days as an athlete and tomboy: sitting on the sidelines still vigilant, watching, thinking, analyzing as the game plays out in front of you. Her eyes, a grey sword sharpening with each passing moment, focused on objects in the distance before fiercely returning to you.

I immediately developed a soft spot for her.

She told me about the new cat she and her family had rescued, about how she knew what to do based off research from The Animal Planet TV show and a variety of websites. Cats need their own safe spaces to simply be, she told me. That’s why they like hiding under the bed and in the closet. Cats also need proper scratching posts to regulate their behavior.

I was taken for a glorious ride listening to Ophelia reason, tell stories, search for answers. We even compared notes on how to deal with moms who think you’re wrong all the time. (My tip? Combine the traits of the kid who was a kiss-up in class with that of a government official/politician giving a speech to an audience firmly rooted on the fence.)

You can find the poem I wrote for Ophelia below. If you’re interested in what the SFV Juniors are up to, check out their Facebook page.


Hello diplomatic eyes! Why yes,
it takes a certain level
of knowing to achieve
that restless curiosity.

In you is a fire
that will never be quenched.
Keep the continuous
motions as you question

all that life offers.

june 19th 2014

4 thoughts on “A Poem for Ophelia”

    1. Insightful. I wasn’t consciously thinking of this post as a tribute to a time but that’s certainly what it is. Thanks for reading, Richard!

  1. I agree with Richard and also know that Ophelia will treasure your poem and read it again and again at different stages of her life and each time she will find a new wisdom…
    PS. I’ve not been receiving any notifications of your posts so have sort of re-subscribed hoping that solves it…

    1. That’s the thing which creates a big bang within me. In some ways, typing for younger kids is the hardest. They might keep this string of verse and words with them for a while, all the time growing and changing and developing different notions of what life means. I sometimes put a lot of pressure on myself when typing for kids because I know they might come back to these words as an adult.

      Hopefully that works. If you email me the email you’d like to subscribe with, I can manually add you to the subscribers list 🙂 [email protected].

      Thanks for the comment, John!

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