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13 October 2010 @ 11:01 pm
excerpted from Intercourse, by Robert Olen Butler  
William Shakespeare
29, poet and playwright

Henry Wriotheseley, Third Earl of Southampton
20, courtier and literary patron


in Shakespeare's rooms in St. Helen's Bishopsgate
, London, 1593


William

proud Nature humbled by the work of its own hand: his azure eye, his auburn trees, the chest it hangs on white as the sun can seem when veiled in silken cloud, his silken doublet white as cloud cast off to bare the fire beneath, and if his heart be sun and his chest be sky then his eye be heaven and his earth below be forested lush around a great high oak that stands stripped clean of limbs from the lightning strike: I give my limbs to this land and touch his beating heart and burn, and yet he is night as well as day, a well as well as tree, a well dug deep and dark and I send my vessel down: he is, in flesh, the world inconsonant made one: my young man, my dark lady

Henry

I soon will lie alone and he will cross the room and sit at his table and once again he will take up his goose quill and find it blunt and take up his knife and bend and squint and turn slightly to the light from the window and begin his sweet circumcision, playing at the tip with the blade, making it less blunt, then sharp, then sharper still, and he will pause and touch the tip to his tongue and he will pull the ink pot nearer to him and dip the pen, dip it deep, the tip growing wet and dark, and he will withdraw and let it drip and drip till it stops, and then he will bend to his paper and his words will come and the tiny scratch of his quill will shudder its way up my thighs and I am pen and I am ink and I am his words
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