Ruth Tang‘s submission this month navigates the meta-narratives of Hamlet – exploring the layered spaces between the play-within-a-play, the concept of performance is considered against decaying dimensions of theatre. In questioning ‘what is death / but a costume-change?’ we are also asked – what is a terminus but a beginning? For it is the death of a King that sets into motion madness and murder, and it is the hesitation of a Prince from which springs the clashing ‘poison-tipped foils’ of vengeance.
And Lose the Name of Action
The dead speak with tongues and ghosts that
climb castle walls, stalk the night’s watch: kings and
the afterlife don’t quite mix. There are spies in the pudding; there is
blood in the wedding-cake. Watch the curtains rise
but hold this new spirit inside you; fold away the script and
stage but not the body you made to glide upon it, a pond-skater
creating the water beneath its legs. What is death
but a costume-change? A riddle. A pantomime. A trap
within a trap within a trap. God is laughing in
the wings. The goldleaf on the turret
walls is peeling, Uncle. I am not
sorry for the blood on the tapestry or the
maggots in the wallpaper. I shall eat your poison-
tipped foils whole.
A mirthless drudge reading Law and English Literature at university, RUTH TANG writes poetry to stave off her (probably inevitable) slide into corporate evil. Her poetry has appeared in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. Her other preoccupations include metafiction, non-musical theatre, and an awful sense of foreboding about the future.
Photo credit: Chloe Lim