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Clue

 

 

 

We used to fight about who got to be Miss Scarlet.

She was the most beautiful character on the box,

her slender waist, her long black hair, her scarlet lips.

 

Her slender waist. It was as if we thought that by moving

a red plastic piece around the board, we, too,

would be more beautiful. With a roll of the dice,

 

she would glide across the square tiles from the library

to the billiard room, would take the underground tunnel

between the conservatory and the lounge.

 

As I filled in the squares on my brown detective pad,

I imagined long red acrylics on my stubby broken nails.

Oh she was everything we were not. She was mysterious,

 

she hung out in a mansion with a ballroom and study.

She was elegant, thin and rich. And when things went wrong,

and they always did, she and her friends, Miss Peacock, Mrs. White,

 

they always figured it out by the end of the game

just who had been the killer, and what weapon they used—

the silver candlestick, the knife.

 

Did we really believe that beauty would help us

to figure things out? We decided at some point

to try that route. The game gathered dust

 

as we turned to stealing our mother’s make up

and styling each other’s hair, then watching

our weight, then not eating at all.

 

We were our own killers then. Our own weapons, too.

We didn’t need a revolver or a rope. It was Miss Scarlet

in the kitchen, but it took years for us to figure it out.

 

 

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After Reading the Rules

 

 

 

It wasn’t that hard to figure out,

Mrs. White with the revolver in the conservatory.

It took less than half an hour—

 

the right questions asked, the right rolls

of the dice, the luck of being in the right

room at the right time.

 

Some mysteries persist—you know,

the ones that keep you awake. No cards

neatly dealt to the players. No brown paper envelope

 

containing the answers. No score sheet

with a finite grid of possibilities. I walk out

and look up at the stars. A voice from nowhere

 

says the words I do not really want to hear,

but it says them with such tenderness:

some mysteries are not meant to be solved.

 

I feel some part of me relax, though the mind, well,

it loves a good game. It reaches for a pencil, sharpens

the lead, creates a grid, looks for clues in every room.

 

 

 

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