I can play each part, be Hamlet, hands in pockets, and then the bikers disappearing over
the lip of the grave. Plus, the dog’s four legs. There’s a cold gold light, everything shaking
and Ophelia newly dead. My initial schlep toward Hamlet and the tannic depths of the glass cap
cast glitter, the plaid shorts stayed snug over the leggings. Let inspiration toss more confetti:
sky turn apricot, mind crack down the visor. Raise the visor. See both sides of the dunce.
I found a little more strength. Summon the dream. Be quick! (Difficult in sun.)
There was the most serene sky with peaks, blue sitting up there awhile with white.
Was there another place? The teabag withers inside my cup, its little paper flag
bumping gently in the air. My long jacket—well, that’s the kind of ease that comes
with green and brown suspenders. The tipsy birds were insects in the distance.
It was déjà vu to clear my throat, begin. My son, dig yourself out. Move. Displace.
The burgundy hedges stayed unruffled, despite Hamlet shambling in and out of them.
I’d like two pairs of legs, please. My son is not very bright. He’s fully leafed, well, almost.
The holly never drowses. Let it scratch out notes on the sky’s paper.
How is hell going to be? Well, hell. What’s the difference between a violin and a viola?
A viola burns more slowly. (There’s more of it. Heh, heh.) Uncover the berries.
The little bits of scarlet make us feel safe, like the grey of bare branches, truisms.
Ah, and now there’s my son Hamlet again. Ophelia guides him with her ungloved hand.
“Phantom” first appeared in Chelsea.
Deborah Woodard was born in New York City and raised in Vermont, and currently lives in Seattle. She holds an MFA from the University of California at Irvine and a PhD from the University of Washington. Her first full-length poetry collection is Plato’s Bad Horse (Bear Star Press, 2006). Her second collection, Borrowed Tales, was released from Stockport Flats in December, 2012. She is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Hunter Mnemonics (hemel press, 2008), which was illustrated by artist Heide Hinrichs. Her translation the Italian of Amelia Rosselli, The Dragonfly: A Selection of Poems 1953-1981, was published by Chelsea Editions (2009). She teaches hybrid creative writing and literature classes at the Richard Hugo House.