While laying drains they found a body
immaculately dressed, black hair a centreparted book
neat pencil moustache still a waxy line,
eternal hands in posy clasp.
Lugubriously, they took his stats: five foot nine
inches, no wedding ring, a jagged scar
on his eaglebeak nose, tattoo of Englebert
Humperdinck over his heart, a moley back.
Like wasps the papers began to buzz:
“The Longest Wait” – “He Fell in Love, Into a
Shallow Grave” – “E. Humperdinck Greatly
Distressed.” The frothing whys cast
leery nets that sieved the land for that girl
he’d plucked daffodils for.
The posy, crushed, was now in plastic
marked ‘Exhibit A’, dusted for crumbs
(Was his last meal a clue? Digestive poisoned?
Toastie spiked?) His rictus grin was measured for
authenticity, his blood – now solid – scraped and
scrutinised for suspicious substances.
What didn’t figure – and maths was fighting 2 and 4
to work it out – was how damned happy
this man looked, eyes melting at a vision
now many bus journeys away.
While the red-tops cawed about his date with
death, Irina Crawley, optician, spinster, flame-
haired fawn, rolled down her shutters in
black flag mood and swore she’d never
wear that turquoise silk lace dress
to town again.