The Riddle of Shakespeare
At their second world convention
those Shakespearean scholars
fight for seats in Washington’s Hilton
just for the privilege of hearing
Jose Luis Borges speak.
After several minutes of standing applause
they quieten, sit
as Borges’ lips begin to move
then lean towards the old blind master
hoping to hear the riddle revealed.
Although they strain, all they hear
is a susurrus, with Shakespeare
the only word audible, but distant.
The microphone is too high.
Nobody steps forward to adjust it.
Borges speaks for an hour.
Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare.
No-one leaves that vast room – Shakespeare.
When Borges finally finishes
the scholars give him a stirring ovation
their hands hot, eyes glistening
on their feet again, for several minutes.
Those Dark Halls of Ambiguity
Haunting parish records of Shakespeare,
scholars scouring vellum’s inked decay
pursue rapture for clues, straight or queer,
haunting parish records of Shakespeare.
His sonnets sing of swoon, now long sere,
not bald facts, that bed, Anne Hathaway.
Haunting, parish records of Shakespeare,
scholars scouring, vellum’s inked decay.