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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Shakespeare on Zoom

By Justin Karcher

Snow in April and I can hear a group of people

arguing outside about what disinfectant

goes down the smoothest, I sneak a peek

through the blinds but they’re already gone

clumps of ultraviolet light that disappear

when the wind rises, when we’re all cast adrift

in a boat with nowhere to go, royals on high

flinging us into the unknown where we feel so alone

when I think about anxiety, I think about my friends

turning into dolphins, because dolphins sleep

with only one side of their brain, so that they can use

the other side to watch out for predators, these are weird times

but not impossible, an ocean of doorknobs that can be navigated

if we think outside the box, if we become reacquainted

with magic, the antidote to all this distancing and separation

energy doesn’t die, it just finds new ways to connect

like how it’s a Saturday night in Western New York

and we’re watching The Tempest live online, collaboratively

produced by two theatre companies across the Atlantic

and it’s hard not to imagine monologues as schools of fish

that come up out of our hearts and swim against the current

no matter what happens, mischievous but puckish Ariel

performing spells from the safety of their apartment

then ventilators suddenly start appearing in overcrowded hospitals

all across the globe freedom means taking care of people

who can’t take care of themselves, it means convincing

the downtrodden that they are not monsters, that they are

islands coming together as one, like plate tectonics but faster

the singsong fury of Caliban desperate for greener pastures

where there are still cloud-capped towers, gorgeous palaces

and solemn temples, somewhere a little better, because we won’t

dissolve like insubstantial dreams, no, we’ll get through this

I think about such things as I watch The Tempest on Zoom

actors speaking from their homes and no feeling

of impending doom, Prospero throwing one hell of a party

everybody dancing when the curtain falls, an exercise

in the new normal, how not to dig your own grave

how to be brave despite the news, how to create art

that stills feel like a kiss but without the touch

call it growth, how we evolve, how our wires

can still cross as we deal with all this loss

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