A 24x folding
magnifier, a Christmas gift.
I peer at stamps and dollar bills,
a dead spider, crystals of salt
and sugar, and even a snowflake.
For no particular reason
I examine my handwriting
and discover it’s a forgery.
Every word of my old notebooks
is bogus. The tentative loops
of the ts and ls, the crabbed curl
of the e, the malformed o,
the awkward b and inept d
and dopey first grade capitals
expose my amateur attempts
to appropriate my holograph.
What if a hundred years from now
people still believe this scrawl is mine?
I have to inform the FBI,
since forgery’s a federal offense,
subject to fine and imprisonment.
Two agents in poplin raincoats
appear at my door within minutes,
wanting badly to solve the case.
I scribble phrases to compare
with the manuscripts and notebooks,
but the agents aren’t quite sure
I’m the scoundrel I claim to be.
They fill boxes with evidence
to take to the lab in Quantico
and will decide within a year
whether or whom they’ll prosecute.
After the agents have gone
I look through the magnifier
at the whorls of my fingertips
and find guilt in every contour,
and gnarled in the center
of each elaborate formation
a signature no one can forge
or even attempt to read.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies. His poetry has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2017).