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How She Was Found

            Virginia Commonwealth University, 2005

We forget gray photos of the farmhouse, one of many
            crumbling, simply existing faintly in Virginia backwoods:
                        unmown and untouched fields, grass and its photographic

wavering among dry wind, before the blue hooded sweatshirt
            was eventually found an hour from Richmond, from the dorms
                        towering in their cluster downtown, among other buildings

erected over grave sites of slaves, etiolated bones we never knew
            were buried beneath poured coffee, the slow glug of water coolers,
                        pressed pinstripes, cubicles like honeycombs, immaculate

in their blank uniformity and infinite sameness. The remains
            were connected to her from the color and hood, the last
                        outfit she wore, sliding by delayed, already wraithlike

in the black and white glow of the security camera, the video shown
            over and over on every news station: AMBER Alert signs
                        plastering telephone poles, corroding in piles in Cary Street bars.

And Ben Fawley’s apartment on Mulberry, where he went
            after he strangled her, after he pushed her into high grass,
                        moved her car, panicking before the inevitable calm,

before talking to himself near the window unit’s drip and drone.
            I never found out which one of us was her freshman
                        composition teacher that year—maybe they couldn’t

reveal it. In the end, what I want to know is how many days
            it took before he forgave himself, lived in the fading caul
                        of his regret like a passenger in a plane going down, nothing

to look for amid the sea of blue seats, unable to catch his breath
            in that swarm of two hundred pairs of closed eyes, the sky
                        refracting its million angles of light, and prayer, and endlessness. 


What This Means

The many shots: crane and ascension, cars piled up,
                        the birth of flowers, split stems, roots pushing

            through soil, all the bloom and glimmer, the hope

            that the collective can come to a decision, as this
will be their opening. What they imagine, finally,

                        is a low-angle camera, right behind the heels—

shoes caked and sinking—as they splash wet mud
                        into the lens, all of it sticking, with distant clouds

            in the azure, morning sky, a warm day in the midst

            of winter, something an audience can’t believe is real,
but buys it, and sits on the edge of gnarled seats

                        in the theater. What’s real is how, dear reader, only

I can imagine it: how he never puts on the hazards,
                        a car swerving right, an elongated squeal of tires,

            unenhanced as he opens the door, takes off, music

            something cacophonous, like Coltrane’s “The Father
and the Son and the Holy Ghost,” dual saxophones,

                        staccato brushes on snare and crash, and you

can tell me that’s a beautiful piece of music—
                        something I’ll never see, because beauty,

            now, is far between the moments we almost

            never have, and yet how can that title not lead us
to beauty? Dear reader, I’m done with speculation,

                        because I have the truth, or what I imagine it to be,

from the woman I love. When they found her,
                        you tried to save her. Every attempt is easy.

            But what I don’t know is the name of each part

            of the brain, something I could look up, names
I could write in ink that would convey some true

                        sense of music, curled tongue in the mouth, lack

of pronunciation, the robotic, mechanical voice
                        speaking: Occipital Lobe, as if I’m supposed to know

            the functions, how one slight push can move

            muscles, nerves, the lips before they became clay,
the immovable counterpart to destroyed love—

                        from black ice, from the awful weather in this place.

You told me that her brain—when the doors
                        burst open, when you couldn’t tell me that a skull

            sometimes busts, unable to protect what

            we were born with—was coming out. Coming out.
And what can we do then? But it wasn’t us.

                        It was her husband, who almost died as he sloughed

through snow and mud and grass and earth
                        to get to her, who heard a high-pitched ringing

            in his ears like a bomb went off, and kept running,

            and finally got to the car, and tried to hold her
in his arms. He meant to keep driving, but he recognized

                        her car. What I can’t tell you is they were on their way

together. What I can’t tell you is that he recognized her car.
                        What I can’t tell you is what he felt when he held her

            in his arms. Cars passed. I can’t believe I’ve left you here.  


Keith Montesano is the author of the poetry collections Ghost Lights (Dream Horse Press, 2010) and Scoring the Silent Film (Dream Horse Press, 2013). He recently earned his PhD in English and creative writing from Binghamton University, and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife and daughter. Find more at http://www.keithmontesano.com.