FOR THE LOVE OF DEATH
for P.D. James
When my spirits sink, I lose myself
in murder. A body in the Thames
distracts me from petty jolts:
a dead battery, a case of flu,
my personal map blurred in fog.
I crave an English mystery, a corpse
cropping up in the conservatory.
Adam Dalgliesh, poet-detective,
dissects with ease psyches and clues.
Death seems less grim in his presence.
Before I reach the last page
I’m at loose ends, dreading
a return to my mundane dating scene.
On impulse, I commit a magic act,
insert myself into Chapter Eight.
Now, my hero questions
me at the murder site. I drown in his gaze,
even though a proper alibi eludes me.
My face turns herring red. Am I
guilty of self-exposure?
He lifts yards of yellow crime scene tape,
beckons me beneath the canopy—
his free hand a sudden heat on my shoulder.
I close my eyes and surrender, saved
from early onset rigor mortis.
Shirley reads "For the Love of Death":
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Shirley confesses: "I guess it's obvious I'm a huge fan of PD James. She makes her hero, Adam Dalgliesh, seem so real! The surprise for me, as I was writing the poem, came when I inserted myself into the novel. I didn't expect that. My heart is beating faster right now, just thinking about it!"