¦ within the ripening breath of time ¦

For the children who imagine us, the aging who remember us, the lovers who embody us.

For Juliet, and Verona.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

And so for Gianozza, Iuliet, Lucina, Ivlietta, Guilietta, and not in this order.
For those that could have been but never were, and those that lent their words,
I thank you.

Children repeat the words we never spoke, to those that have heard them all,


Their cherub blush, their smiles,
have become the morphing memories of our half-remembered rhymes,
idioms, twin symbols: we are light and night,

The stories we became are unpacked and fractalized
into cardboard swords on schoolyard stages,
distilled into into metaphors, allegories,
dreams, the youngest fantasies,
where the soft graze of a first kiss belies the beasts that roam within us.

This history is not our own
or anyone’s, frozen in a sunlit drop
caught above the paper surface,
limbo remembrances trapped in ancient ink.

We’re corseted tight and true, quill-scratched into lives we never lived.
So much love begins in our mythology,
so much love falls out of our reach.

And yet the poisoned pricks of ink are stories,
beautiful, as you.
Our borrowed emotions are sculpted under stage lights, laughter
and repeated rivered tears, and
We, where once forbidden, now know a freedom beyond our wildest imaginings,
of the sweeter truths that lie beyond the bitter beautiful.

The words may not be ours, but they might well have been.

In their quiet ferocity, the hearts that beat with nervousness may never match the gentler rhythms of our own,
but their beat is that of innocence.

I know, dear, it has been centuries since you saw the last tear writ into my eyes,
But I must tell you now: I cry. Not for what we were or what we could have been,
but the horizons we have become.

And while our stories may hide their fires from our memories,

This is our legacy, of undying truth in love
for all the highs and lows etched above.
Which is why I do not hesitate, for these words are a poison that brings me joy.
I pull on the sheets of shifting ink
as my own
And become my own story.

My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words
Of that tongue’s utterance, yet I know the sound.

For all the world remembers us, dear, children repeat the words we might have spoken,
I feel as I have heard them all, in a more beautiful history,

in a different time.


Based on “Romeo and Juliet”, a play by William Shakespeare. Quotations borrowed from Act II, Scene II.

Conceptually inspired by “Buffo”, a poem by Wisława Szymborska.

Title appropriated from Act II, Scene II of the play (ll 127-128):
“This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.”

Image credits: Kieron Cropper, aka CUR3ES

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