Spelling "Warrant"

by William Doreski

As we line up for dinner
Kevin asks if spelling “warrant”
with an “e” is ever warranted.
Meanwhile the big northwest wind
ponders through spruce and hemlock,
settling old scores. The lake sighs.
The twin haunted islands, compact
and smug, hover in the starlight.

Dinner is the same every night:
lobster stew, followed by vanilla
pound cake glazed with orange sauce.
Gossip places me elsewhere,
in France or Romania, my hands
filthy with embezzlement. The bank
went bankrupt. The vault yawned open
like a mid-Victorian tomb.
I stole barely enough to fund
a few months at this off-brand
resort in the Canada Rockies.

Seated at last with Kevin, Jay,
and three women from Brazil
who speak no English, I explain
that “warrant” always requires a pair
of aces, two rooks, a warrior,
a nebbish, and a twit. Kevin
gestures at the women. They think
his antics obscene. Lobster stew
arrives in a big ceramic pot.
I pour the chardonnay. Kevin
muses, “warrant, warrent,” till Jay
whacks his shoulder to silence him.

The women laugh in Portuguese.
Jay and Kevin smirk and blush.
The lake slops and gargles and snores
in a grave universal language,
its sense of humor warranted
by lamplight piddling on ripples:
foolish kisses expended
on subjects indifferent to love.

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