Shall I go win my daughter to thy will? – Richard III I think of Elizabeth, Edward’s daughter, that pretty box for reconciling hopes. She never is onstage except in the mouths of those who bid on her. Here is a play with ghosts, two princes locked in a tower. Here is a play staged in daylight, the stage boards inclining softly like a woman would be said to move towards an audience of shifting tastes. And here is a girl who shares the name of her mother who was a queen and wants this daughter to be queen, though that life is a mouth of ashes to speak her name with, this daughter absent as an unworn costume stuffed in the rafters behind the stage. An understudy earns her keep by learning all the lines. Elizabeth can hang all day closed in among the musty velvets used, unused, waiting to be used again. Three queens run repeat on the boards: the one whose husband died, the one whose husband died, the one whose husband died, but not before he murdered her so she could reappear in plaguing dreams. Even the dead want their stories to be told, are not content the action should unfold without their curses or their approbation. Everywhere language: from the heckling audience, the echoes of these wars and famines whistling through their bones, from the gallery above, a procession of the dead calling death for death, but nowhere calling, still as bones hidden in the tower walls, as a mulberry carried towards division in the womb, Elizabeth.
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.