Doing Dishes With Agatha

Agatha and I doing dishes. (This is exactly what I look like.)

The best time to plan a book is while you are doing the dishes.—Agatha Christie

Agatha never fails me
whenever I show up there’s always a sink full of dishes
and we get right to them
I wash
she dries
“How’s the book coming?” she asks
“Well, I’m still flexing my muscles,” I tell her
“So no book, eh?”
“No. No. I’m writing every day.”
“On a book?”
“Well, no, I’m doing this poetry, short story thing…”
Agatha snorts and I imagine some metaphor
that I can insert here to appear wise
“You used to write books.”
I’m holding a gravy boat
I think about hitting her over the head with it but
I hand it to her instead
She can read my mind
“You don’t murder the Queen of Crime
and get away with it, boyo.”
I go back to the dishes and my hands disappear in the dirty suds
I am typing in the water where no one can see
exactly the sort of image I could have used earlier in the poem
“Poetry, short story thing, huh?
You know what that old drunk, Faulkner, used to say?
That failing to write good poetry
led to failure with short stories
which led him naturally to the novel.”
She burnished the gold leaf on an old charger—
excellent use of an obsolete synonym for “platter”
which is undoubtedly a symbol for something—
and plopped it down on the sideboard
“What does Faulkner have to do with anything?” I asked
Is this still a poem?
Was it ever?
“I guess you’re ready to return to novels after all,” she said
then she snapped me with her towel
She tore off her top and ran bare breasted across the garden
Dame Agatha Damned Christie, can you believe it
She’s done that every August 16th for thirty-seven years
Thirty-seven years is a long time to be peculiar
Time to allude to something obscure—
The German Club in Borsalino days da-da, da-da, da-da—
take a deep breath
say “Poem”
and bow theatrically

—Don Whittington


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