Palinode: Shakespeare’s Women – Elizabeth Sylvia

If you watch a lot of tv, especially critically

acclaimed, you might come to suspect
that a woman is a pair of tits attached to broken,
a hurt circuit flipped again and again.
It’s like we get written into believing
we are the worst thing ever done to us.
So I love how the women in Shakespeare
always say exactly what they think is true,
and are never only watery bags of damage
about to burst all over the scene.  
When horrible things have been done
to them, they want revenge, but not  
because vengeance is the only taste trauma
leaves living in their mouths. Revenge
is a word men use for women’s restoration,
our way to imagine justice in the world.
In the comedies, they get their due and everything
returns to harmony with their uncorrupted souls.
And when it ends in tragedy, the women stumble
on through blood and destruction knowing
they witness to the wrong the world has done,
roaring that we are all more than would be made of us.

Read: Reading and Writing about Shakespeare by Elizabeth Sylvia

Elizabeth Sylvia (she/her) is a writer of poems and other lists who lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she teaches high school English and coaches debate. Elizabeth’s work is upcoming or has recently appeared in Salamander, Pleiades, Soundings East, J Journal, RHINO, Main Street Rag and a bunch of other wonderful journals. She is currently working on a verse investigation of the writer Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard.

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