A Whodunit for Barbara Guest

Chapter 1

known as a "road murder" list
of three nightdresses tenderly held but
reduced to two by the missing concept



Chapter 2

She: And even as we stood there waiting ...
Voice: ... the quicksand began to quiver.

She: You heard the thunder over the sea.
Voice: I saw the see-saw bang against the sea ...

She: ... and by chance
Voice: ... the boy crouching for shelter.

She: Solitary?
Voice: A black figure.

She: Among the many, you mean?
Voice: In the physiological dark, I mean.




Chapter 3

Suspicion fell on the sister, on Constance, a girl of a certain age, beneath the "somewhere" of the dunes, the "else" of the sheltering, the lee hard away.



Chapter 4

A: The grandfather, a professional detective ...

B: cut on the continental model ...

A: within the London Police Force.

B: [Rolling his eyes ...] Serious, this force!

A: Criminal elements, naturally.

B: The missing garment must bear evidence.

A: You mean "The clue of the missing nightgown?"

B: I read it already this morning.

A: You always read it "already." I did not read it
           this morning.

B: I found the third nightgown. And there
           was no missing blood to be found on it ...

A: ... though something else?

B: If this were a shut case, Sir, but it is open.

A: Ah, open!




Chapter 5

She was able to produce only two elements
of quicksand's quiver-fray evidence.
Imminent, expecting you
to do something fragrant,
say "Some (other) lover."

Little gun mare.
Night dream weapon stair.
The clue of the missing not-
quite-rue (or "full of rue").
She flew high,
white hover in her
missing-few gown of night.

Not quite true.




Chapter 6

still ...
expecting something more,
more from the mare of fidelity
outside the ring-fence endowment
With fragile recompense that skill
irregularly wide at the hover
thereafter plausible
lover's chaste skullbone and scar



Chapter 7

Reader who supposes
you are the better part of your own
porcelain scandal, a story must be capable,

stabilized in beeswax (rolled cylinder
of heated evening fictional plots)

solving your six sides
with light at sliced lid.
Light gridlock,

big starry night swerve.

for Barbara,
on the occasion of her 80th year



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* "A Whodunit for Barbara Guest" originally in 20th Century, a+bend press/chapbook series, n. 37, 2000.