Ode to Sir Andrew Aguecheek

by Christine Adams Beckett

Would you rather hear a love song or a song about the good life?

A love song, a love song.

Ay, ay. I care not for good life.

Feeling sated by a shared meal and a rare
fellowship for a family far-flung with
grown-up lives hindering us, we fall back
into an unspoken line, re-creating

a long-lost dynamic in the name of
nostalgia, of yearning, behaving more
like school children than those burdened
with keeping the lights on, the beds made.

We share stories of the day, now with
the high-tech aide of pocket computers
we all have to chain us to our responsibilities,
Show-And-Tell with digital photography,

the short leash held in our trembling hands. My daughter
shares a video of a raccoon, given pieces of cotton candy
which disappear in a puddle where he washes
his full paws, waving his tiny human-like

digits through the artificially sweetened water,
gazing at the camera through a forlorn mask.
My youngest daughter – virginal – weeps at the cruelty.
Silence greets her, interrupted by laughter as the wise

amongst us recall the lost moments of our own
desires, love scorned, gripping onto beautiful
illusions, tantalizing images as ephemeral as
puffs of smoke, vapor trails, or digital messages.

A grievous moment, when one realizes they are
holding nothing, counterintuitively making the release
more vigorous, a lamenting handicraft echoing that of
Sir Andrew, our recognized Shakespearean fool:

the comic sadness of spun sugar, which dissolves
so quickly on the tongue, albeit adored once too,
as some ancient ancestor summons a brogue in my throat,
not my own, to sing with a sobering hilarity:
“A stick in me hand and a drop in me eye,
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny Blue, we hardly knew ye…”