‘Hamlet’

Sarah Lawson

This actor is no more Danish
Than I am; no more murderer or prince
Than I. Chances are
He’s never seen a ghost.

Elsinore is a stage with sets
And curtains. The wardrobe mistress
Worked half the night
On Gertrude’s third-act gown
To get it right.

The gravediggers dig a trapdoor
Halfway down to where the props are kept.

The fights need late rehearsals;
Hamlet and Laertes relax
At the pub next door before they catch
Their several tube trains home.

The state of Denmark’s all a prop.
The only thing that’s real tonight
Is Yorick’s skull.
Human bone that grew and died,
It once held someone’s brain.
Ignorant of Equity, the old owner never knew
He’d end up playing Yorick,
A role still more mature than Lear.
Death does his cameo walk-on here.