On Oberon (and Other Matters)


I’ve idled many nights too warm for comfort with companionship,
but most of my companions are now gone.
I’ve left my husband. Oberon, though he be king
of fairies, shadows, night (who cares what else)
shall not rule over me.
And Theseus, both duke and warrior,
is still but mortal. Now he weds one of his own.
The boy remains, but he has little use.
I’m used to lords and kings.
That’s why I’ve found a new love
who lies across my lap in all his heat.
(His body’s far too warm for weather such as this.)
This fight between my lord and me
has made the weather quick to change
and caused the world to cringe,
and so the summer’s warmer than it ought to be.
I’ve half a mind to move myself
from under him, but I will not so do,
for sweat’s superior to solitude.
And so these summer days transpire—
with someone, always.
Never my husband. Oberon spends all his time
with Puck now, not with me.
It is no matter. I’ve my own life still.
I have my fairy band. I have the boy
(though Oberon would take him too).
Besides, I have another now. Another love,
not like the old. His fuzzy face, and earthy smell,
though not the qualities I used to seek in men,
draw me to him. My love is new—
more strong and powerful than for my spouse,
(although the king is stronger and more powerful).
In spite of all this love, though, nothing in him moves
my heart—it’s moved by him himself.
I love his face because it’s his, and him because he is.
I love because I love. I know not when, nor where,
not how, nor why this love began.
My love made sense in past affairs:
I know why I liked Theseus.
(I once professed to love him, but those were lies
to spite my spouse. For although the duke and I
had fun enough, I never fell
for mortals ’til I woke to this one’s song.)
I even now can see the qualities in Oberon,
albeit now I see his faults as well, for he
neglects his world and wife to wander woods:
today with Puck, tomorrow with Hippolyta.
(I understand their woodland games
to be of two quite different sorts.)
My sleeping love prefers his rest to me, but does
not feel the need to leave my side, or lap.
I sometimes wish he would—
this heat is overwhelming. Yet
were Oberon and I to make amends, the weather might retreat—
but, no. That shall not happen. Oberon will have me not.
He does not want his wife; he wants her page.
Let him find his own.
I’ll not return to him to have him leave,
nor give to him the one who’ll make him go.
Truly, he would not want the boy.
Had I not known his mother I’d return him to
his mortal state. I am a queen; I’m not a nurse.
I do not need a boy who needs a mother.
His mother, I loved.
Compared to her, the boy’s a trifle.
Compared to Theseus, a child.
To Oberon? Nothing.
But they are gone. Yes, even Theseus now weds.
His choice, at least, is fortunate,
or else Hippolyta might make my husband hers.
No, Oberon will not cross Theseus,
and better yet Hippolyta herself will not,
for she forsook her court for courtship. She’s a duchess now
by marriage, and no more a queen by right,
for love and power cannot coexist,
and her affairs are now no longer military.
Instead, they’ve become marital.
She’ll sooner sob and clasp a hand
than shout and grasp a sword.
So smitten as she is with Theseus,
she’ll leave the forest for the courts,
and thus forget her fairy fling,
(if she is able—Oberon
is unforgettable). She will
think foremost of her husband, love, and lord,
forgetting all her former ways with men.
Not that I care with whom she sleeps.
I have a lover now who sleeps with me,
(although he sleeps far more than I
and with his slumber holds me to the ground).
I think to him my lap is but a pillow and my hands
for scratching ears (though even that my servants do).
But what of that? I’d rather be here slept upon by this fair ass
than worshiped by an irritating child,
or by a king ignored.
No. No, I need not Oberon.
I’ll let him go, and let him take the boy.
He’ll need a new love now.