A Bard in the Forest of Arden – Kate Falvey

So where are all the fools and fairies?
Quince, you string the lights and rig the gauzy scrim.
Titania, shimmer all your sylvan innuendo in
and vary like an otherworldly whim or
a thought before the sin.
Rustics, do some heavy lifting
within that copse of wizened, watching oak.
Improvise some slapstick and rough jokes,
collide with fairy folk and shadow Peter Quince.
A little bumbling heedlessness will not go amiss.
Puck, you flit like madness in the wind
tickling through the audience as they queue.
You won’t have much to do before we start the show.
Just stir the moonlight into drowsy possibility
and slink through boughs like spectral glow.
Don’t be too lascivious and listen for your cue.
Lovers, try not to seem blasé when you collect the cash,
even with our quasi-futuristic theme.
We aim for authenticity with our mash-up and re-scripting --
a reverential homage to the dream. Let your bawdy be a bit
Elizabethan as you grope. It’s ok to poke some weary
through the naughty as you dodge, emote, and flit.
The moon swells with silver serendipity,
a scallop shell of opalescent breath,
whispering of weird verges and spilling ghostly webs
into our semi-woodsy set.  There are still birches left
and their silver peelings glimmer in the dark.
And there is that ancient oak, old when first he dreamed
and then he wrote.
Now, sprites, the music! Time to pluck
the stems of eglantine and oxlip
to wind around the infant prince.
This old wreck of a wood will fill out nicely
and convince the rabble with our borrowed, re-worked,
slightly campy, but ever-faithful twists.
Douse this scraggly wood with mystical pretend
and England become Athens once again.

Kate Falvey’s work has been published in an eclectic array of journals and anthologies, including the Mysteries issue of Deep Overstock; in a full-length collection, The Language of Little Girls (David Robert Books); and in two chapbooks. She edits the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech/CUNY, where she teaches, and is an associate editor for the Bellevue Literary Review.

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