Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Missing Person Report (Poem)

Missing Person Report

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. 


Louise Gallagher said...

Oh Maureen, this is powerful and heart-breaking and provocative.

Thank you.

Unknown said...

Ohhhh quite a chiller but I loved the fact her toes were painted ,it's as if it gives the corpse a sense of personality ...thanks for the shivers x x

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Wow! Dramatic and chilling. I'm glad you don't do the nightly news. I couldn't watch!


Buddah Moskowitz said...

What I especially liked about this is all the detailed speculation, which seems very abstract, and then at the end, there is the proof of a real human being there. Stunning.

S. Etole said...

So distressing ...

Pat Hatt said...

Chilled down to the bone, very haunting write, nicely done!

Brian Miller said...

having worked in law enforcement and both been at crime scenes and taken crime scene classes...i know the reality of this...and the boxes of evidence left in open cases...

Divya said...

Very chilling write.. Rather I am feeling what fate !! and how dark is human side at times ..

Ruth said...

I was blown away by the eyes like sparklers.

Cathy said...

Frightening as hell and heartbreaking at once!

Hannah Stephenson said...

This is so sad, but also intriguing....the idea of the unsolved mystery is always fascinating, but the person who is involved in the mystery (the victim) makes it horrifying.