Shakespeare’s Mistress

by Kathleen Clancy

Shakespeare! Over and over and over again he professes his love: longer than time, more solid than stone, immune to actual war and blight. What is love to him? What is he trying to prove? Alchemy? Love speaks? He hears the supernatural?

Maybe it’s just practice. He’ll always need to try out a line,

and I wouldn’t want him feeling insecure about his work. Playwriting isn’t the burliest office. At least I know his mind

is forceful. Still, the incessant rehearsing . . . Well, it’s pretty quirky don’t you think? It makes him suspect, like he needs convincing love is true. Love is true as this moment is true: He loves me, I pluck a petal from this daisy, a poem bears this printing

something is lost, kept, and wounded simultaneously.

He’s right. It’s worth repeating: Love and words, magic, my mistress. If we never wed, it can’t be tragic.