Mercutio’s Lament- Valerie Hunter

Romeo, I thought I knew you.
You were a sap for pretty girls
(or any girl, really),
a little melodramatic, but sharp-witted,
and also my best friend,
the only one who always understood my puns,
who always understood me.
When you refused to fight,
I thought I understood;
Tybalt’s a master swordsman, and you,
well, you’re a lovesick fool.
I took your place
because that’s what best friends do.
I could hold my own,
Tybalt wasn’t mad at me.
But you forgot the rules somewhere,
you couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Never mind why you came between us,
never mind that I was hurt under your arm.
That hurt is just a scratch
compared to the desperation in your eyes,
desperation that I know has nothing
to do with me or my imminent death.
You have a secret,
something so pure and good
that it radiates from you like starlight,
makes you look like some angel of the heavens.
Maybe that sight should give me comfort,
here in my final moments,
but it doesn’t.
I curse you,
your family,
your damned feud,
but really all I want to ask
is why you held this secret close,
kept it from me, your best friend,
the one who gave his life for you.
Romeo, I thought I knew you,
but I was dead wrong,
and now just dead.

Valerie Hunter worked at her college library as an undergrad, where she occasionally read the new acquisitions when she should have been shelving. She now teaches high school English, and has read Romeo and Juliet more times than she can count.

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