“Mother, I’ve written a poem!” Bill said as he burst into the kitchen excitedly.
“Well that’s lovely dear. Help me set the table for dinner, will you?” She stirred the giant pot of broth that would feed them tonight. Bill salivated as he walked past; his mother cooked the best broth in the street. All his friends were jealous. He went and pulled out the spoons and knives, placing them in order around the table.
“Do you want to hear it? I think this one’s rather good!” He nodded at her eagerly, fit to burst with poetry.
“Okay dear,” she called from the kitchen. “But I know you’ve stopped laying the table! Tell me your poem whilst you work.” Bill’s mouth stood agape. He never knew how his mother could see through walls, but she always could. Must be a talent that they get when they become mothers, Bill thought.
“Alright,” he said as he clattered the cutlery against the table, loud enough for his mother to hear. “Here goes.
“You’re just like summer but much better,
“You do all to set my heart aflutter.
“You’re not like May,
“Fancy a roll in the hay?
“Thinking of you puts my mind in the gutter!”
The pause was heavy as he awaited his mother’s response. The grin from his face sloped slowly into a frown and he rounded the table, putting the last spoon down with care, as though laying on it were his fragile dreams.
“Um,” his mother said. He could picture her uncertain face as she stirred the pot, unsure how to answer him. He daren’t go back to the kitchen.
“Forget that nonsense and get a real job!” his father said, just at that moment trudging through to the kitchen after a day of long, hard work. He quickly pecked his wife on the cheek and then made his way back to the dining area to face his son. “How can you expect to feed a family on poetry, ey? You can’t, that’s what you can expect. That quill makes you look ridiculous too. I mean, who do you think you are? You will be a glover like I, and forget this writing business immediately.”
“But…Mother, what did you think of it?” Bill stared at the door intently, willing his mother to say something positive.
“It’s…well,” she began. She had stopped stirring and stood in the doorway, looking at her son’s hopeful little face as she wiped her hands in her apron. “I think it’s a lovely little poem, Bill, but I do think it needs some work. How about…” She looked to the ceiling as she thought. “How about changing that first line to something more eloquent, something like ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’” She spoke grandly, raising her hand in the air as though reciting something of true magnificence.
“Ooo! That’s a bit fancy mother,” Bill said, impressed at his mother’s lyrical ability and moved by the wistful look in her eyes.
“What’s for supper?” His father grunted and scratched his buttocks.
“Broth,” she sighed before turning back to Bill. “Anyway son, keep at it. I know you can do it if you work hard enough.”
“What’s got this nonsense into your head anyway, Bill? You were happy to take over my business only a few months ago!” his father asked.
“We’ve been studying the classics this week. They are great, aren’t they? Could do with a bit of updating though!” Bill talked excitedly as he placed the bread in the centre of the table. His mother wobbled in, carrying a large, heavy, and very hot pot of broth. She began spooning it into their bowls as she wondered at the ambition in her son. “I figured I could do that,” he said. “Be a classic, I mean, but maybe a bit more modern. Not stuffy like those old guys. One day, the whole world will remember me, Bill Shakespeare, for my brilliant poems and plays!” His face turned into a grin.
His father snorted as he took his seat at the dinner table. “Not with poems like that you won’t!”
Bill frowned as he spooned some steaming broth from his bowl. “You’ll see, dad. You’ll see.”
Special thanks to Janet Gogerty for providing the inspiration for this story with her comments on my last post!