All's Well that Ends Well

It is so rarely done,
That is why we are here,
The heroine, true sun

To our dark selfish day
Longs only for one man,
Wins him. He runs away.

We know that by the end
She tricks him back to keep,
So worry, like a friend,

If new betrayals will creep -
Ah, good, the interval!
We watch her curl, asleep

Poor Helen, on the studio floor.
Lights blink. She does not rise.
We must pass to the door

To icecream; taps; not tread
Upon her clouds of hair.
Actors must (like the dead)

Leave quietly. We resent
Her back's broad, awkward hunch.
How can we laugh, dissent?

It is so rarely done
Since we so often meet -
Our clean shoes dare not touch -
Her sorrow at our feet.

Alison Brackenbury
Zoe Caldwell as Helena.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon Avon,1959

If you've any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury would be pleased to hear from you.
Her latest book is The story of Sigurd
, a fine press limited signed edition of nine new poems, traditionally printed on mould-made paper, illustrated by a specially commissioned wood engraving by Jane Lydbury.  It is available at 32, including post and packing, from Gruffyground Press, Ladram, Sidcot, Winscombe, Somerset, BS25 1PW