1599 c/o John Minichillo

Hamnet’s Ghost

William Shakespeare reads a borrowed book in his furnished London room. He is part-owner in the company now and he needs a play. He becomes aware of the room, no longer immersed in the Amleth legend, and he remembers his son, who would be fourteen. What would the boy have thought of the new plays? It’s been three years and William Shakespeare wants to feel proud.

The advice of everyone, of Will Burbage and Thom Pope, is to divorce. Despite the Queen’s church and the national feeling, William Shakespeare is still too Catholic. He sees the Scandinavian tale updated and he crosses over to a foggy night at Elsinore with a message for his son: Amleth, Amnet. Hamleth, Hamneth. Hamnet, Hamlet. He needs to write.

He imagines his boy older and in anguish, at Elsinore. He remembers the hole at Stratford, his son in the ground. With his elbows on the table, William Shakespeare holds his face in his hands, and he returns to the book. He wipes his fingers on a kerchief and turns the page, the stiff paper of the volume lifted, the page flipped, and the suggestion of silence as the page comes to rest. The morning light through the open window, the river breeze. He reads and feels at peace. But halfway down the page William Shakespeare loses the sense of the sentences. He is restless. The chaos of London below his window, the breach of memory, the injustice of loss. He needs to write.

What is the password! Hark!

Have you seen the King tonight?

William Shakespeare saw his son, Hamnet, in a dream he can’t forget. William Shakespeare is the father-ghost and he doesn’t know what to say.

He closes the book and places it on the shelf. There is no poem, no play, no utterance for the feeling and he can’t write it.

He takes his jacket and his hat from the peg . His arms return to the sleeves of the jacket, accepted into the familiar cloth. He is the fanciful version of himself, the walking-around William Shakespeare. The air by the river will do him good. He will eat. The flag of his theatre is flying. From the balcony, he will watch the crowd.