The Mind Race

by Anna Gray

“Matches, buy your matches!” the street boy hollers,
Foaming mouth. Eaten soap. Hopes to get a higher pay.
A peripheral snowstorm at the corner of the street,
Cotton, obviously. The mill is near exploding.
The reek of rotting faeces. Must be near the Thames.
Richard the Thirds as my all-seers would call it.
Strange scent. Acrid? No. Suffocating. Gas.
Gas from the gas lamps, coated with soot.
Carriage clinking over cobbles with a broken wheel
Possibly a road accident-no one dead, that’s for certain.
Anxious, weeping maid at the doorstep of a large house.
Took a penny from underneath a mat. Got caught.
Chimney boy dashing from an alley, pockets bulging.
Stuffed with coal. Clearly stolen. Got away.

I close my eyes a moment and escape. Visit attic.
It’s an attic in my mind where I organise my thoughts.
Very many, too many, why so many clues?
Consult, discover, solve. Deducting is mere nature.

Snap eyes open. Fingers in my pocket.
Turn round, flick coat, analyse, analyse.
Pickpocket. Small girl. Family of twelve.
Let her go? Might as well. This case is rather dull.
Much more interesting crime to prevent.