Poetry Porch: Poetry


Red-Inked Runes
by William Doreski

Before dawn I find you rigid
at the kitchen table, your face
a ceramic mask. Papers smut
the oak surface. Illegible
runic handwriting proves nothing,
as the police will later admit.
Youíre not really here because
you returned to Ireland years ago,
leaving a faint trill of speech
in the streets of Jamaica Plain
where every shopkeeper knew you.

I hadnít spoken your name
for a decade, yet here you sit
with expressionless expression
and a cat crying at your feet.
Can you explain the runes scrawled
page after page in red ink?
Youíve spoiled my best fountain pen,
a Waterman, by clogging its point
with ink the police will describe
as blood. Your long hair has grayed
like a shadow. Your posture insists
on boarding-school poise you kept
until an accident bent your spine.
I touch your shoulder and you crumble
or fade, leaving me a handful
of irreducible yellow salts.

Certain a crime has committed
itself, I call the police
to consider the evidence.
When they arrive in a fluster
of blue lights, radios, and gun belts
of black patent leather, they shake
their bullet heads and persuade me
nothing can be done. The day ends
as it began, naked and mewling,
with a sheaf of red-inked runes
and a handful of chemical dust
to scatter over my garden
in the faceless autumn dusk.

Copyright © 2008 by William Doreski.