The Lady Who Found the Body Returns to the Police
Yesterday my fortune cookie said,
You’ll soon find
something important, and I didn’t
think nothing till this morning
when I was putting down toast.
Them wontons was burnt.
Whoever had burnt wontons?
When that toast burnt,
I ‘membered the wontons,
then the cookie, and maybe
the numbers on the fortune.
Sometimes I play the numbers
in the Pick 5; Aunty Clarisse won
10,000 at the Pick 5, so I don’t
play nothing else—and maybe
those numbers was what time
I found the body or the license
plate of whatever boy done this.
I’m sure those numbers would tell
you police something,
but I can’t find that slip. You said
I should say something
if I ‘membered something. Ricky,
my husband—two years now, thank you—
says I threw out the slip with the Szechwan
we forgot to stick in the fridge.
I was so upset. It’s better
as leftovers. Last night, when I laid down,
I kept dreaming about the grass
around her legs. I can’t remember
if this was in my dream
or if it was when I found her,
but the grass was black
everywhere around her skin—
by her face, legs, hands.
It was like black fingers
instead of grass, and the fingers,
black as leather pants, were touching
her, not like they’s evil
but like they’s brushing her
with some secret
ceremony for the dead.
I told Ricky I wouldn’t tell you
this next piece, but I’m here
and I can’t shake it: When the fingers
was about done, the body lifted up.
Not like it was alive, but like
it was being pulled up from the middle
by something invisible and holy,
and her fingers—that girl’s, not the grass—
were the only thing
that looked alive.
They was making threes
with both hands, but not
like we make threes
with our middle three, but with a thumb
and the next two like how my granddad
used to count, starting with the thumb,
when he was fixin’ to switch us.
You suppose if I’d been there
early I woulda scared him off? Ricky says
ain’t nothing nobody can do
about what’s done, but I wish I could
‘member them numbers. I swear
two of ‘em was three even if black grass
don’t mean nothing but a dream.
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