Poem of the week: Plague Season

A new work by Mary O’Malley

Titus's Garden: Lucius Pursued by Lavinia (Titus Andronicus, Act 4, Scene 1), from Boydell's Illustrations of the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare (1793). Engraving by Thomas Kirk

Titus's Garden: Lucius Pursued by Lavinia (Titus Andronicus, Act 4, Scene 1), from Boydell's Illustrations of the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare (1793). Engraving by Thomas Kirk

 

It is a hard year, but now the rain has paused
dramatically like a bad actor. There’s no tension
and like a bad actor, it will go on in fits and bursts.

Only so much can happen in the interval.
When we stagger back inside, Unreason’s monsters
rage across the stage again. Titus Andronicus, red

in hand, act and part, the one that used to make
us laugh before we knew that life is mostly poor theatre
and Grotesques are born when reason sleeps.

We know the repertoire, two Richards, three Henrys
King John and this. What else is history but tragedy
and farce, though which depends on point of view and time.

The stars are out and a cold moon dances down the street.
Give us the Comedies, before another downpour starts.

Mary O’Malley’s most recent collection is Gaudent Angeli (Carcanet, 2019). She is a member of Aosdána