The Dead Woman
It is early in the morning
when I find the naked women’s body.
The spiderwebs look precious,
with their hundreds of wet crystals,
lined up so carefully, like the Christmas lights
my father spends hours preparing every year.
Once, I tried to carry a web home for my mother.
I cried because the spell broke as soon as I touched it,
and it became clingy and horrible and not beautiful at all.
The dead woman’s weight
has flattened the bracken and heather.
I wonder if it will rise again, or if it is, like her,
too broken, too far gone.
I am old enough to know that she will not rise again
on her own two feet.
I am old enough to know that she will need to be carried
from this place, her face hidden.
Her body, from ankles to forehead, is covered with bruises,
big as both of my father’s fists put together.
The hair between her legs is so short I can hardly see it,
and the hills on her chest are three, no, four times
bigger than the hills on my mother’s chest.
I watch the hands of my new watch move while sitting
with her. I watch flies explore the red cave of her mouth,
dance across her blue cheeks, blue as a cold sea.
I eat my ham sandwich and wonder what the last thing
was that she ate. I feel bad because she won’t eat again.
She won’t chew, or swallow, or feel her belly becoming full.
I wonder how many regrets she had before she died,
if her mother made her write down her mistakes,
and then burn them in the fire.
I wonder where her clothes are, and for how long
she has been wearing the red varnish on her nails.
I go home when it becomes too hazy to see properly.
Mother taught me that word yesterday.
Mother is cutting potatoes when I tell her
there’s a dead body up past the woods.
I watch the knuckles on the hand holding the knife
turn from pink to white, and I start to cry.