We go on the police reports
when we have nothing else
but bones — her legs found
in 1996 — and her skull
that turned up fifteen years
afterwards: just last year.
We can't say whether
her light eyes darted uneasily
in the presence of a stranger
or shined like the sparklers
we twirled those summers
on Coney Island. Remember how
we held them up against our eyes
to mesmerize our lovers' gaze?
We don't know if she was dirty
blonde, her hair mimicking
the sandy color of some beach
on Long Island, hiding the rest
of her as the tide rolled out.
She could be 18 or 50, taller
or shorter than you or I or any
average missing person. Take
a guess at her weight before you
try to image who her killer is,
what he does while some Eyewitness
reporter tags a part of her in his
camera's eye. She's been gone so
long, and all we have are the pieces
of her dumped in sacks, one off
Ocean Parkway, another, much later,
on Fire Island. A composite sketch
posted to the Web includes no finger
prints — no hands have ever been
recovered — so we can't claim
as certain she raised them in defense.
Scars on her right leg, suture marks
on her left ankle might help in this
ongoing investigation. What won't
is knowing that whoever she is,
she polished all ten toes the color red.
© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas
This poem is my response to a City Room blog feature, "Police on Long Island Release Sketch of Woman Whose Skull Was Found Last Year", which appeared in The New York Times on January 7, 2012. I've incorporated into the poem some of the few details available about this missing woman.