November 1, 2020

Texting Shakespeare

On the side of a road atop a stump

you seem cinched in by sunshine while you are 

slumped over a cellphone screen, bare goosebumped 

décolleté.  You ignore the people, cars.

You have something to say.  Instrumental 

music, ear buds, because you cannot bear

other people’s words inside his gentle 

syllables there.  Compose exposed, the glare 

of sunbeams on touchscreens while your neighbors

theorize you are texting, teen you seem.

Maybe partially true (though your labor 

is real), because he gives you just fourteen,

lines to opine, this ancient Englishman;

you text with Shakespeare whenever you can. 

The Annotation:

I love to write and walk. It’s probably dangerous — in fact, I’m sure it’s very dangerous, but I do live in the woods and the neighborhood they abut is very small, too — thankfully not much traffic. I always have my ear buds in, listening to instrumental music and typing on my phone.

When I get really going on a poem, I’ll find a bench or, like today, a tree stump to sit down and let myself go deep. Today on the tree stump, a car passed me and I caught their stare.

When I meet a neighbor every once in a while, they always say, “You’re the girl always walking on her phone.” I know they think (because some of them have stated it explicitly) that like the teenager I can still at times resemble apparently, I’m some compulsive texter. I do have a literary magazine and friends online, so yes sometimes I’m in a conversation with the living. But often I’m in a dialogue with a deceased old Englishman in the form he created.

I wrote this sonnet today when I had this epiphany that I am indeed in a way doing what they think — a teenager texting with a guy. He’s just an English dead man, and he’s made the parameters of the conversation. But I like to think that I dialogue with him. Even text.