Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, died at age eleven in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1596. The playwright had already been living in London, far from his family, for years.

My father was lucky to know his dad
The smell of him, the gloves he made.
They made.
I don’t know what I remember of my father
And what I pieced together from what others said.
He was too little there, even before he went away.

Then, I went away.

I wasn’t expecting what came next:
the filling up,
not of his life, for that still belonged to him,
but his plays, lines finding their way into me
circulating like prayer, like breath,
Speeches upon speeches for kings and clowns
multiplying within – stars articulating
a wilderness sky –
But none for children, not one
for a son in the arms of death
calling his father’s name.

They course like blood,
every atom singing the words he did not sing to me
like a lullaby for my eternity.