THE MURDERER

 

They found her

In a ditch

Between the thick gravel of the farm road,

And the field that runs to the edge of the earth

In Illinois,

Her face turned back to her shoulder

Like a bird nestling for the night,

And the stain at her breast

Was the shadow of a cloud passing.

The red flannel nightgown she was so fond of--

Soiled and bunched around her knees.

The jewelry box with bent ballerina

Lay open and empty by her hand.

 

They came for him in town,

He was paused at a parking meter,

Hand pulling change from a pocket,

Sleepy eyes gazing beyond the reflective glass

Of the old store fronts,

To the diner--

He had thought of pie and coffee,

Sweetness and steam rising

Against the fading sun.

They knew who he was,

It was a small town--

He ran a cemetery,

And owned a ten acre plot of trees

East of town where the rabbits ran

Until the opening of hunting season,

He sat over eggs and bacon every morning

At the diner with one man’s uncle,

Another’s father--

(It seems she didn’t cook.)

He was asked to come along,

No rights were read,

No explanations given,

And as he followed, without responding,

He was taken to the station

In fragile silence, with careful movements

So solicitous.

He could feel the man

Behind the bare desk bend in

To watch his face,

When he was finally told about his wife.

He could only nod.

There was no surprise, no denial,

No grief or guilt,

Just the snake-hiss of a hand

Held close to the chest one last time,

Before being spread on the table to win or lose--

Her hand limp in the dirt

And he was still holding it.