The clumsy worm of my signature
propels itself across the page
like an invertebrate forgery.
Bank tellers, too, squint
in suspicion at its curlicues and squiggles
ill-fitting the ellipses left for signing away one’s life.
I recall my brother’s practised scrawl
over any old page he could find
wallpaper, rare first editions, flesh,
hundreds of his degenerating monikers
a seismic graph
as if trying on a uniform he would never wear.
For all those people who skip to the ends of books
to see how it all turns out, no, they do not live happily after.
Emma Bovary does not die.
Mistah Kurtz – he comes quietly.
After those interminable pages
Captain Ahab forgives and forgets.
No point reading on.
Chaos is not vanquished nor will order be restored.
Similarly, after the years of their estrangement handsome
Lady Samantha and brave Sir Charles are not reconciled.
No idyllic garden wedding. No madness.
None of the chickens come home to roost.
There is no catharsis, only quiet abandonment.
Look rather to the drab middle
where the overweight protagonist gets up each day
to go to work, where the ungrateful others
take everything for granted, where disease
strikes unexpectedly without insight,
where the bills keep coming,
keep coming, keep coming.
Look here for true resolve.