Nancy Drew and the Case of the Mysterious Will

Colleen Michaels

You have ditched the plastic pumpkin 

for a smart burnished satchel, a clue

to your pragmatic need for candy

on a night of gorging and bobbing

and greedy masked faces of boys with swords.

We have made your blue dress together.

I spy you taking notes about collars of the era.

Premeditated, you’ve cut your hair early October.

You would have dyed it blonde and pin curled

each lock, if you had agency beyond third grade.

You have no use for the Spooky Store, kitten ears 

or princess veils. What you want is a clock,

old and German, or skeleton key with heavy 

filigree, hidden in a hedge on Halloween. 

There will be no dayglow bones or blinking safety wand.

You will coast up a driveway in a blue Roadster

to the obvious house, the one with the full-size 

candy bars and useful pencils, orange and black.

Carry that clock under your arm. Interrogate every knight

by Titian porch light. What is your quest? Why such flimsy 

fire-safe garb if you are here under orders of a king?

You will peel each apple until a mystery is solved,

brilliant and genuine as the pearls at your neck.


About the Author

Colleen Michaels directs the Writing Studio at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, where she hosts The Improbable Places Poetry Tour bringing poetry to unlikely places like tattoo parlors, laundromats, and swimming pools. Yes, in the swimming pool.

Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including Barrelhouse, The Paterson Literary Review, Mom Egg Review and Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse Press). Her poems have been commissioned as installations by The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, The Peabody Essex Museum, and The Trustees of Reservations.