Shakespeare in Love / by Alison M. Newcomb

April ... hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
— William Shakespeare

April is just around the corner. In that brief timespan, my family and I have to pack up and move out of our house. What I see when I look around my office right now is a whole lot of stuff that isn't packed. I am not exactly sure how we are going to pull this thing off. 

Although we are happy about our new house, with its additional space, shady backyard, and a treehouse, it seems as if we are all deeply sad about leaving our current home. We have spent many tumultuous, but happy, years here. There are just so many memories. The boys seem to be sad because they have lived in this house longer than they have ever lived in a single location in their entire lives. My husband feels like he is closing a chapter on a golden season in our life together as a family.

I read a quote this week that really hit home for me. Naturalist Richard Proenneke once said:

"There is always a sadness about packing. I guess you wonder if where you're going is as good as where you've been."

Having spent a solid decade moving every 12-18 months, this melancholy is something I have known well in my life. And, yet, I've dragged my memories along with me from place to place—old talismans, journals, scrapbooks, and keepsake boxes. Moving is said to be one of the more traumatic life experiences we all go through. And while I am definitely feeling unmoored, I am also overwhelmed with nostalgia as I rediscover old versions of myself, from twenty years ago, in the pages of dusty journals, yearbooks, magazines.

These nostalgic items are partially responsible for my sluggish packing pace. Every shelf I empty seems to hold something full of memories, reminding me of some version of myself I have all but forgotten about.

Some of the most precious of these keepsakes are the literary magazines I worked on in high school and college. I can hardly believe the words on the pages were written by me. And that I used to write almost compulsively, creatively-

spun narratives and poems spilling out of my head like water from a faucet. Some that I read are mortifying; others make me smile or break my heart. Through my words, written so very long ago, I am able to remember that girl. I get a brief flash of the person I used to be.

Among other things, that long-faded memory of myself was mildly obsessed with all things Shakespeare. And heartbreak, naturally. Of all the short stories and poems I have read through this last week, I keep coming back to this one about Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Since this whole move thing isn't going to take care of itself, I will be going offline for a few weeks. Until my next post, I thought I'd leave you with a mildly-mortifying college lit sample, written by yours truly (the beta version).


Sweets to the Sweet

by Alison Sullenberger

Sinking upward, rose rising
A flesh flower, competing
for the sun that streams 
brights through the water
running ice cold over my face.
I knew I wouldn't sink,
too much hot blood in
my veins. Though I can control
the boil with "Yes, my lords."
But as I'm fading from this mortal
coil, I drown in defiance of you.

 

Still sinking up, my lips turn blue
and my flooded tongue thirsts 
for the parching air. Do you care,
my sometimes-savior? Do you 
scoff at my behavior, garlands 
dripping everywhere? Flowers
sticking in my hair. Will you kiss
me now in my glass coffin, feel
the moistness of my cheek?

 

I am drifting, slowly slipping.
Take me from my water grave.
Spread my skirts and, while I'm
drying there, your sometimes
mother, aunt, and lover makes
fresh garlands for my hair. Close
me in this thin-walled box and 
suffocate me with the soil.

 

To me, to me come silently,
cloaked in the rich fabric of
night. I've lost my sight but
your false tears fall softly on
my cheek. Take back your
sorrow, I won't drink your
tears. My ceased breath gives
me riches while your beating
heart makes you poor. When
you sigh, "How now, Ophelia?"
I'll say, bold, "Quite well, my lord."

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