Christine Howe is a writer and academic who teaches at the University of Wollongong. Her first novel, Song in the Dark, was published by Penguin, and her poetry and other short works have been appeared in journals such as the Griffith Review; Cordite; Island; and in various Spineless Wonders anthologies.

Alas, poor Yorick

Here you are, Yorick.
Soon to be met by
the fair Ophelia;
her brother;
her boyfriend,
his mother
and his uncle.

Yorick, your eloquent skull
(full now of fine dirt)
once contained the universe.
Fissures of lightning
splintered your cerebral sky;
runnels of seawater
slipped along the shore of your jaw;
the trunk of an ash
reached up your spine
in the gathering dark of your neck.
Mare’s tails and mackerel scales
wafted through your parietal lobe
heralding rain.

You contained multitudes:
fish eyes, embryos, crowding saints;
the wash of waves on a pebbled beach;
craters in a cortex moon;
phosphorescent jellyfish.
Danish mud, potato peel,
herring bones, a flapping crane,
laughter in a toothy mouth.

You, court-jester Yorick,
Shakespeare’s existential joke
provoke not pity, but wonder:
within that aqua canopy
where nested tenderness?
where fluttered grief?

The Rabbit

Years later
when he was off his medication 

living alone in a cave in the bush
he remembered the rabbit –

the way it emerged
from the clay

in his fingers
chalky fur

drying pale on his skin
sloping ears bent up and back.

Back then, art
was still part of the curriculum.

Her nose arose unbidden
her limpid eyes met his

and, as other kids spaghettied under tables,
farting, calling each other names

he helped her scrabble free.
She entered the kiln

one lonely beast amid a platoon
of mother’s-day pinch pots

and suffered the scorching heat
with no complaints.

When she was released
she was a tougher version of herself

burnt umber and split
right through the heart.