The cup of tea beside my bed
awaits my withered lips.
I blow on the heated drink
and savor frequent sips.
The frost affixed upon the pane,
arrived last night as freezing rain,
as did the fever at my brow,
which I've kept at bay, till now.
The sputum I often cough
is tinged with reddish streaks.
I haven't risen from my bed
in more than twenty weeks.
The nurse, who daily sits with me
departs my room at half past three.
And now I'm left alone in fear
as my demise creeps slowly near.
Again the footsteps on my porch,
this uninvited guest.
Too weak to banish him away,
too fragile to protest.
I hear him rapping at my door,
precisely quarter after four.
I pull the blanket to my nose
as this intruder's presence grows.
"Ophelia, come dance with me!
I'll hold you in my arms."
I know his dark, deceitful ways.
I must reject his charms.
Each day exactly at this time,
just after four's alarming chime.
He beckons at my sturdy door,
arriving quarter after four.
He taunts me through the chilly night,
demanding I defer.
Then promises romantic nights
of candlelight and myrrh.
"Oh please allow me through your door.
Do not reject me anymore."
I musn't listen to his lies.
Or look into his desperate eyes.
At last the sun begins to rise.
That's when he goes away.
He fights the force that pulls him back
because he wants to stay.
Who is this ghost that needs my soul?
Why does he want to take control?
And who am I that he may seek?
A frail woman, old and meek…
Abandoning my sturdy door,
no longer is he near.
I know that quarter after four,
again he will appear.
I feel relief to see my nurse.
The nightly haunts are getting worse
She tends to me till half past three,
then takes away my cup of tea.
The sky is dark with veins of light.
The thunder's loud this eerie night.
Again the clock struck after four.
I wait for him to reach my door.
But four fifteen had come and gone
without a sound till early dawn.
Perplexed, I sit up in my bed.
I notice I don't cough in red.
I feel my forehead once again,
my fever has subsided.
I do not sense my front doors' strength
or shield it once provided.
Has my trespasser gone away
and left me here in peace?
And did he see my anguished soul
and stage his own release?
A comfort washes over me.
Relief replaces fright.
I see my nurse come in my room,
confirming day from night.
"Dear Agatha come have a seat
beside me on the bed…
there's much I have to tell you now,
sit back and rest your head."
But she did not accept my bid,
and looked at me with worry.
She placed her ear above my heart,
then ran out in a hurry!
Her troubled state left me afraid;
instinctively I bowed and prayed.
I knelt upon the wooden floor,
and heard the creaky planks once more.
I then stood up beside my bed,
and saw a woman sleeping.
She looked serene and fast asleep,
not suffering or weeping.
I stroked her soft and graying hair,
then sat beside her on a chair.
I wondered how she came to be
inside my bed, instead of me.
And then I saw upon her hand
a gleaming, brilliant light.
I recognized this glowing stone,
familiar and bright.
'Twas my own ring upon her hand.
I stopped to catch my breath.
And all at once I recognized
that I had passed through death.
I stood there in an anguished state
as people came and left.
My family sat beside my bed,
lamented and bereft.
"But I am here!" I cried out loud.
They wrapped me in an ivory shroud.
They took me from my caring bed
and now I know my flesh is dead.
I knelt beside my sturdy door
and noticed it was almost four.
A cloak of fear came over me;
at four fifteen what would I see?
The clock was just about to strike,
I knew the time drew near.
Afraid to look beyond the door
at just who would appear.
And then a glow appeared below,
just underneath the door.
It came to me and lit me up
at quarter after four.
The purest love I've ever felt
had drenched my every pore.
And standing there in front of me,
my husband at the door!
He put his arms around my waist
and hugged me, oh so tight.
I knew just then that it was he
who visited each night.
I asked him why he picked that time
to show up at my door?
"Did you forget we were wed
at quarter after four?"