The Morþdæd Mystery

The boathouse

Winter kept the village warm under a
covering of forgetfulness;
Spring surprised them in their little lives,
rain showers
cups of tea.
A stranger not living nor dead in a
sound of water,
a body in a shadow, in a handful of wet.
He could no longer speak
and the villagers were silent.
Had he drowned, or was it murder.
The constable worried about
his horoscope;
one must be careful these days, he said.
Under a brown fog in a
winter’s dawn
death had undone the stranger in so
many ways.
The ice thawed and disturbed his disappearance;
he lay in a vial of dry blood,
powdered, confused in his clothes;
his withered life like a
stump in time.
No one claimed the body.

What shall I do now, as he pressed his lidless
eyes in the dark,
waiting for someone to answer his knock
upon each village door;
when answered, they did not mince words,
begone stranger,
you’re not wanted here.
Cold and hungry, he fell asleep underneath
the boathouse.
I am a proper fool, he said.

Sunday morning he never awoke, all alone
he floated in Plumb’s river;
fingers broken, lifelessly trying to clutch
onto floating branches.
The constable referred to it as loitering as
he rummaged through the
dead man’s pockets-
no identification
other than a few old coins and a wrinkled

He, an old man, was buried the next day
in an unmarked plot,
eyes blank, took his secret with him;
no mourners
only a handful of dust.
When all was silent, there lurked a villager
wanting to know the truth;
dug up the grave,
dragged out the body, a dull wreck of
his former self.
Out on the ground, perilously spread,
his drying body
revealed something, a clue.

#7The boathouse

The mudwump grass

She allowed her half-formed thoughts at first
to remain silent.
A wave of emotions crept over like the tide
which flowed over
the mudwump grass,
each blade in a tuft of wind and wave.

The Plumb river sweeps wide, low, high,
enough to reveal boot-prints
in the mud
where a body had been dragged, perhaps
somewhat unwillingly.
Traces of dried blood- death by water,
or a shooting.
The tide began grabbing for the shoreline,
all evidence would be lost.
She had to act quickly.

A deep, dark voice startled her. What do you
have in your hand?
She tried to conceal the ring as her words
stumbled out.
Nothing, nothing, just an arrowhead.
Her long black hair blew gently
in the wind,
Feels like rain, she said.
Shouldn’t you be getting home then,
he answered abruptly.

A damp gust of rain began falling as she
trudged through the
mud and grass; surrendering to the warmth
of her home.
Thumbing through the obituaries, she found
nothing about the stranger;
the rain fell harder, tapping on her window.
The next morning she discovered
someone had broken in.
The ring was gone.

#8The mudwump grass

Plumb’s landing

Before she could react, the constable,
obedient to someone,
knocked her unconscious.
Controlling hands tied her to a remnant
of a pier;
sat patiently waiting for the tide to swallow
her last breath,
drown her in a ruin.
The rising river began lapping on her
clothes, the dampness worsened
all fears.

The wooden piling creaked and moaned,
resigning itself once again
to the thirsty Plumb river.
As she began regaining some consciousness,
she tried to call out,
but her voiced was muffled by gag over
her mouth.
Her eyes desperately searched for a boat
or passerby, but all she saw
was the constable
smoking a cigarette.

The river behaved as an ill wind behaves,
nearer and nearer to a
final meeting;
This is the drowning land that has already
claimed an innocent
life who held a secret about a crooked cop.
She groped at the splinters
in hope of freeing her bondage;
Is this the way my life is going to end?

Disturbing the wooded silence by the
river bank, several law enforcement officers
with a purpose,
hurriedly they approached with a warrant
for the constable’s arrest.
As it was being served, one of them quickly
waded out and untied her.
Quietly, quietly she cried, not only for herself,
but for her murdered father.
The morning sun carried the
black clouds away. A new dawn.

#9Plumb’s landing