Judith Shakespeare

I know Judith Shakespeare is alive.
I have seen her scattering her dreams
To the howling winds outside.
I have heard her stifled sobs resonating
From closets, cloisters, caverns alike.
I have seen her dewy tears freeze on
The very brink of her dark, wondrous lashes.

I beheld her sullen face in the glinting mirror,
Braiding her hair, adorning her tresses with
The gifts bestowed by her precocious, officious
Betrothed; who she had been inordinately
Prevailed on to marry. He was a squinting,
Obsequious man with a dreadful roving eye,
Apprentice to the local carpenter.

I have often traced the fluttering movement of
Judith’s quick poetic fancies,
I consoled her, petted her after every
Heart-breaking egress of her fickle muse.
I have watched her weave the eternal tapestry
Of paradise, with sonorous verse and song,
The dissonant bricolage, all the more beautiful
For its delicate, crackling novelty.

I caught the lilting cadences of the song that
Escaped her lips at night, tantalizing playfully the
Mystic orb of the blanched moon in the sky.
I had carried her with me to the magic well, she was
All agog to visit, hoping it would replicate the mysterious gifts
Of the Castalia, and bind her to her muse forever.

I often saw her ashen face, reflected in the polished parquetry.
I often gaped astounded at the tuneful rhythm of her artistic creations.
I hounded her persistently, to reveal to me the whereabouts
Of those elegant verses she had apparently hid, for fear
Of discovery.
I poked the red embers to retrieve the charred remains of the
Verses she had burned.

I heard her piercing screams, pervading the night,
Emanating from within, when she was beaten, gashed
And flung about the room.
I had followed her to the city, waited at the door of the
Theatre-house with her, while she begged for work,
Pleaded for mercy, hoping the world would be at least
As kind to her as to her brother.

She was soon disabused of her pitiable naivete.
Her fanciful innocence escaped her soon.
I had heard her hopes die within her with a whimper.
I had traced her footsteps to that morbid place,
That night, when she decided to end her life.

But she still survives.
I can tell you where to find her.
I can tell you where she lives.
This is the golden archway leading towards the earth.
Ascend those stairs, walk down that archway.

You will then have reached the mouth of an enormous
Cavern leading to the vast, wide world.
Continue your journey, knock on every door
And gain admittance into the nether regions of the
Private chambers of every house you see;
You shall find Judith Shakespeare, cowed and
Weather-beaten, huddling inside,
Weaving, knitting, baking, washing, sewing, nursing,
Doomed to a life of eternal domestic drudgery.

Aneesha Roy

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About Ijagun Poetry Journal

Ijagun Poetry Journal is a quarterly journal that provides a platform from which we can tell our own stories in the authenticity of their multiplicity through the poetic medium. We don’t want to hear these stories from our master “griots” alone; we want to hear from those mastering their art, too. Hence, we aim at publishing new and emerging poets. We also welcome the works of established poets in order to encourage the poetic genius of those mastering poetic art. We prize original works that conform to, break or reinvent conventions. Again, we accept reviews and critical essays on poetry. We also accept powerful art works and photographs that make us appreciate the "poetry" in everything.
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