Stephanie Kaylor: Unidentified Woman

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN WITH MULTIPLE TATTOOS WHOSE DECOMPOSING BODY WAS FOUND IN AN ABANDONED HOME

 

dreams of leaving purgatory, dreams

of flour on her hands, not these

blisters, burns, chipped polish on

her nails, their borderlines bleeding

into space dissolving dreams of here or

there

 

in El Paso, Mama said there was

no such thing as racism: the whites

kept to themselves while the others

kept to theirs, and she was gone

now, married a man, changed her

name from Maria to Mary. Mama

said to put sunscreen on your skin

to hide it from the sun, not these

tattoos

 

filling her body like a calendar

counting down the days from

origin to synthesis, no borders,

no walls, no windows left unbroken

 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN FOUND DEAD IN SINGLE CAR WRECK, ESTIMATED DAMAGE TO VEHICLE SET AT $10,000

 

In Okeechobee, Florida all train traffic was

halted until the tracks were repaired &

in the orange groves the cargo waited,

the men came equipped: drills & ledgers,

borderlines, unnecessary dust, the cause

still undetermined. Up the road a battle-

field where they once named death “old

rough and ready.” It was called the Second

Seminole War as if the first had ever

ended, gunfire searing through like a

highway on which drivers simply change

lanes as Unidentified Woman’s body

crumples before them. They hold re-

enactments to raise money for its

preservation each year while a car

without a driver is taken to the shop,

Unidentified Woman awaiting their

instruments: calipers, retractors, the

tie around the tongue allowing them

to look into the pharynx & try to

find a name.

 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN TOLD POLICE SHE VOLUNTEERED TO HAVE HER ARM CUT AND FINGER CUT OFF. SHE WAS NOT UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OF ALCOHOL WHEN THE INCIDENT OCCURRED

                       

It wasn’t needed. Her fingers

only incidental-- what was there

to grasp? A ghost, a song, a

preface to the story she lacked

the pen to write? Unidentified

Woman told Jonathan already--

you can take these hands if no

one’s going to call me when they’re

raised; you can let this blood if

it’s only extra weight; you can take

these legs that have no place left

to run, and Jonathan, I see you

going far.

 

It wasn’t needed. The men wanted

a ritual, not the persistence of

flesh but the sanctity of its

obstruction. A shot of blood, a

pinky finger pointing out toward

the stars or toward the

ground, but away from the core

of Unidentified Woman, away

from the sex she’d stroke on

sleepless nights once Jonathon

turned off the lights, the unattended.

 

Unidentified Woman abandons her-

self, manicured & ready, toenails

polished just incase.

 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN FOUND STRANGLED, BURNED, HER BREAST IMPLANTS TRACED TO A DALLAS CLINIC

 

After strangling her, he washed his hands while his

friend took a turn on her corpse. He does not call it

a corpse, he calls it Her with his fingers in its tousled

hair, finds a dovish motherliness to wrap around himself

in her eyes rolled back into a parenthetical, a wasted

day unscripted & underway folded into jokes of shop-

lifting since even the police wouldn’t call it rape when

they learned of her high heels made of some plastic clear

as his conscious, the tattoo on her lower back. Most of

it burnt off, could only identify her by the globes in her

chest, the only parts left unscathed after he took the

canister of gasoline, made sure he wouldn’t dirty his yard.

 


Stephanie Kaylor is a writer from upstate New York. She holds a MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University at Albany and is currently finishing a MA in Philosophy at the European Graduate School. Stephanie is Managing Editor for Five:2:One Magazine and Reviews Editor for Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Queen Mob’s Teahouse, BlazeVOX, The Willow Review, and altpoetics and she tweets at @sm_kaylor