Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

Approve Our Eyes and Speak

I. Here’s what the audience remembers best:
Gertrude’s jeweled dress. Those bolstered,
hand-sewn mule shoulders. Her nordic force
comes easily. For me, her frame is harder
to counterfeit. I was Ophelia, when young.

II. Hobbling out of Jim Mullen’s Bar
down in Chelsea, I grasp Polonius’s
elbow & cry: I would give you violets,
but they wither’d all when my father died.

His reply? You’re the one who let me hide.

III. Hamlet’s bombast, his stress-by-stress
channel of an impression of boozy Burton
doing his finest Olivier: In app-re-hen-sion
how like a GOD— on our Hamlet’s nightstand,
I saw, dog-eared, The Interpretation of Dreams.

IV. Kneeling in the chapel, wet-faced Claudius
spins a cocoon around his body. Each audience
knows how this scene ends, will always end. Some
gesture in silence, try to conjure Hamlet’s dull hands.
I would gladly take up his sword, if offered.

V. Poison cup. Shallow breath. Good night, Denmark.
All hail Norway. The audience rediscovers its mouth.
Come, sweep me up. Trot me out, smiling.
A stagehand rolls on the ghost-light to keep watch,
its bare bulb carving the sussurant dark. See who goes there.

Jen Jabaily-Blackburn is a 4th year MFA student at the University of Arkansas. Originally from Boston, MA, she lives in Fayetteville, AR, with her husband and their intrepid hound.

“Coming from Boston, because it is cold (or perhaps because we are a cold people), front porches are in short supply. My grandmother and grandfather had a place that we called the front porch, though it was more of a large, glassed-in entryway and was actually at the back entrance of the house (which, to confuse matters more, was used by the family and most guests as the main entrance-in my family, front doors are generally ornamental). In any case, the porch had a hammock, and I spent maybe 99% of my childhood in it. Yes, 99%. I did the math.”


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