She’s bent over at the waist so the sweep
of her dark hair obscures her face. Her splayed legs
jut at odd angles; her arms are tightly bound
to the trunk of an oak.
Thirty days of exposure has turned her skin to leather,
dark and shiny. Where the dappled light hits her
the skin glows gold.
Her jawbone’s been picked clean and maggots spill
from the maw of her torso. The sweet smell sends
Nestor to his knees. He waves Sweeney off with one hand,
braces himself against a tree with the other.
I kneel in the damp leaves and stare at her a long while,
taking my time. I notice that I’m noticing things: a puncture wound
between the third and fourth ribs, the fact that she’s been tied
with what looks like the strap of her purse, the torn bra a few feet away,
the broken fingernails; but that’s just the job, and what it feels like
is that I’m simply sitting with her.
Nestor won’t come near her, so Sweeney helps me with the close work.
It is good to do these things slowly, and I’m glad he doesn’t need
to talk as we go. He points out a broken tooth, the intricate knot
in the binding, but other than that he is silent.
Danvers moves around us, dropping plastic markers and shooting
the photos we’ll be living with later.
It’s two hours before we get her bagged up. It’s late so we decide
to do the autopsy in the morning, when we’re fresh.
At home I eat the meal Yolie made without tasting it.
She tries to engage me but sees soon enough that I’m gone
and goes off to the bedroom to read. I pace for a while,
then sit on the back deck and smoke the Cuban cigar
she brought back from her trip to Miami.
The night is moonless.
Until my eyes adjust to the dark all I can see
is the red glow of the burning cigar,
how it flares when I pull the smoke in.